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NYC School Assistant Principal Is Latest Swine Flu Fatality
Date:5/18/2009

But U.S. health officials say the disease is no more dangerous than regular flu

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- An assistant principal at a New York City public school died Sunday night of complications from the H1N1 swine flu, becoming the fifth person in the United States to die from the disease that was first identified last month.

Health officials said Sunday that the death was not surprising, because even a normal flu season kills an estimated 36,000 Americans every year, and all signs suggest that swine flu causes mild cases of infection and the vast majority of patients recover quickly and fully.

The assistant principal, Mitchell Wiener, who worked at an intermediate school in Queens, had a history of medical problems that might have left him vulnerable to complications from swine flu. His family said he had gout, but the condition was being controlled with medication, The New York Times reported.

New York City's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who was just selected Friday by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called Wiener's death "terribly tragic."

"We are now seeing a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City," Frieden said. But he added: "Nothing we've seen so far suggests that it [swine flu] is more dangerous to someone who gets it than the flu that comes every year. We should not forget that the flu that comes every year kills about 1,000 New Yorkers," the Times reported.

Hours before Wiener's death, city officials announced that five more Queens schools had been closed. Wiener's school is one of eight schools temporarily shuttered in New York City due to concerns about swine flu, CNN reported.

On Friday, the CDC was reporting 4,714 U.S. cases of swine flu in 47 states, and four deaths. For the most part, the infections continue to be mild -- similar to seasonal flu -- and recovery
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