More than 1,000 swine flu deaths this year in Brazil
With the Rio Olympics just two months away, health officials reported 1,003 deaths so far this year from swine flu also known as H1N1 virus.
That number is the most fatalities linked to the disease in Brazil since 2009, when 2,060 people died.
Government health officials said they have recorded 5,214 total swine flu cases between January 3 and June 11 of this year.
More people tend to fall victim to the disease in May and June, when the weather starts to get cooler. The uptick began earlier than usual this year, catching health authorities off-guard.
"Vulnerable, unvaccinated populations have been left unprotected," Caio Rosenthal of the Emilio Ribas infectology Institute told the Brazilian news website G1.
"As soon as we began to distribute the vaccine, cases have decreased," Rosenthal noted.
The virus has affected nearly all of Brazil's 27 states, but is particularly concentrated in the southeast region, where 2,606 infections and 540 deaths have been reported.
The majority of those cases have come from the Sao Paulo region, Brazil's political and economic epicenter, where 2,197 cases have been recorded, 434 of them fatal.
Rio de Janeiro, where the Olympics will be held from August 5-21, has recorded 150 cases and 44 deaths linked to the virus. ■