Lebanon Health Minister Wael Abu Faour denied on Wednesday any link between Lebanon’s garbage crisis and the rise of swine flu (H1N1 ) cases , revealing that at least four people died of swine flu this year.
“Scientifically speaking, there is no direct or indirect link between the garbage and swine flu,” Abu Faour said during a press conference.
The garbage crisis erupted in July last year when the country’s main landfill in Naameh was closed. Since then, garbage has been piling up on the streets.
Municipalities that are collecting the garbage are dumping it under bridges and valleys, raising concern over an environmental and health disaster.
Some are also resorting to burning rubbish, causing toxic fumes.
“Based on the available data, there has been a 20 percent rise in the hospitalization of people infected with the H1N1 virus,” said Abu Faour.
“The rise is linked to the improvement in reporting cases and the worldwide increase in swine flu infections,” he said.
“Last year, five people died from H1N1. This year there are four confirmed and two unconfirmed deaths from the virus,” he added.
The flu vaccines are available in the market, he said, advising the people to take precautionary measures near infected people.
H1N1 is a respiratory disease that is contracted through contact between humans and pigs.
It is transmitted between people through inhalation, but not from eating pork-related products, according to health experts.
A major H1N1 outbreak sparked a World Health Organization pandemic alert in June 2009, after the virus emerged from Mexico and the United States.
The epidemic killed around 18,500 people in 214 countries. The alert was lifted in August 2010.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in humans the symptoms of the 2009 “swine flu” H1N1 virus are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general. Symptoms include fever; cough, sore throat, watery eyes, body aches, shortness of breath, headache, weight loss, chills, sneezing, runny nose, coughing, dizziness, abdominal pain, lack of appetite and fatigue. The 2009 outbreak has shown an increased percentage of patients reporting diarrhea and vomiting as well. The 2009 H1N1 virus is not zoonotic swine flu, as it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, but from person to person through airborne droplets.
Iran, major swine flue outbreak
A swine flu outbreak in Iran has killed 112 people since mid-November 2015 , according to a report by AFP , citing Iranian media sources
“About 1,190 people have been diagnosed with the (H1N1) virus and hospitalised” and “the death toll has reached 112”, state news agency IRNA quoted a health ministry official as saying last December 28.
According to the report the deaths from swine flue doubled in the last 2 weeks of December . But since that report Iran must have kept a tight lid on any swine flue news because nothing has since been officially reported.
Swine flu deaths have mostly been in southeastern Iran, while many other provinces across the country have reported isolated fatalities.