May 9, 2009 / 7:45 PM / 10 years ago

Costa Rica reports first death of man with H1N1 flu

(Adds details, background)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, May 9 (Reuters) - Costa Rica’s Health Ministry said a 53-year-old man died on Saturday infected with the new H1N1 flu strain, the fourth country to report a death of someone ill with the virus that has sickened more than 4,200 people around the world.

The man also had diabetes and asthma, Maria Trejos, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, told Reuters. Doctors at the Health Ministry said they will have to wait for autopsy results to determine if the death was from the flu or complications caused by his other illnesses.

"His case was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Trejos said, adding that the Central American country now has 8 confirmed cases of the flu strain including the man who died.

The flu strain, which combines swine, human and bird elements, has killed 48 people in Mexico, two in the United States and one in Canada.

In Mexico, health officials said diabetes was associated with many of the victims, as were cardiovascular problems such as angina and high blood pressure.

These conditions can raise the risk of death from seasonal influenza, which kills 250,000 to 500,000 people every year globally and 36,000 in the United States alone. (Reporting by John McPhaul, editing by Jackie Frank)

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