Swine flu virus
Swine flu virusIsrael news photo: (file)

Health Ministry officials expressed concerns on Sunday that two recent deaths may have been caused by the swine flu (H1N1) virus. One death occurred in Eilat; the second in Petach Tikva.

Both of the deceased suffered from prior health conditions and were considered at high risk for flu-related complications. One was a 34-year-old man with pneumonia who had been a heavy smoker. The other, a two-year-old boy, suffered from a chronic illness.

Laboratory tests showed that the two-year-old did not die of swine flu. Laboratory results on the other victim's cause of death are pending.

More than 1,300 people have been diagnosed with the swine flu virus in Israel. Most suffered only light symptoms, and almost all have recovered. Many of the victims were tourists, or Israelis who had recently returned from travel abroad; however, in recent months the number of cases in which the virus was transmitted within Israel has risen rapidly.

The first serious case of swine flu in Israel was reported in mid-July. The victim was a young Swedish woman visiting family in the country.

Worldwide, approximately 95,000 people have been conclusively diagnosed with swine flu, and several hundred have died after contracting the virus. Those who suffer from chronic illnesses, asthma, auto-immune diseases and obesity are at higher risk than others of suffering complications from the illness.