A New York City educator has died after a battle with swine flu - the city's first fatality linked to the virus. Swine flu is still spreading in the city, forcing the temporary closure of 15 schools and also showing up in a local jail.
There have been a total of 259 confirmed cases of the swine flu virus in New York. The first death linked to the H1N1 strain came Sunday, when Mitchell Wiener, a Queens assistant principal, passed away after five days on a ventilator. New York City health officials say Wiener, 55, had underlying medical conditions, including high blood pressure, which may have contributed to his death.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his condolences Monday.
"Mr. Weiner was a dedicated educator, and he was well liked by his students and cared deeply about them," the mayor said. "His death is really a tragedy for our city and a terrible loss for the school community."
No one else in New York has become seriously ill from the swine flu virus, which has sickened more than 9,000 people worldwide. However, city officials have closed the school where Mr. Weiner worked, as well as 15 other public and private schools, for at least five days each after a string of children reported to have flu-like conditions. The schools are being scrubbed down with disinfectant while the sick children have a chance to recover.
Health officials also say an inmate the Rikers Island jail was also confirmed to have swine flu, but the illness has not spread to the other prisoners.
Health officials say the though the virus appears to spread quickly, it is not particularly dangerous. Mayor Bloomberg says more cases can be expected.
"As the H1N1 virus spreads rapidly throughout our city, we should not be surprised to see more serious illness," Bloomberg said.
Medical experts now concentrating on treating people with underlying fight against swine flu, will focus on those weakened by pre-existing conditions.
The US government reported Monday more than 400 new cases of swine flu, taking the nation's total number of infections above 5,000. A total of 6 people have died.
The head of the World Health Organization is urging countries to be vigilant against swine influenza A-H1N1. The WHO says 40 countries are reporting nearly 9,000 cases of the swine flu.