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Swine flu claims 166 lives in Mexico this year

A total of 166 people have died in Mexico so far this year from swine flu, with a 23 percent increase in deaths in one week alone, according to health authorities.

The country’s Health Secretariat reported out that of 6,066 cases of AH1N1 influenza, 207 people had died in 2012 — 31 of them between Feb. 17 and 23 — the Latin American Herald Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, of a total of 5,544 cases involving three types of flu virus currently active in the country — H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B — 180 deaths had been confirmed, the Tribune quoted the Mexican Health Secretariat as saying.

The country’s available flu vaccine is effective against all of strains.

Around 85 percent of those who died of influenza so far this year had not been vaccinated, while 73 percent suffered from another ailment, such as diabetes mellitus, obesity and arterial hypertension.

According to a report on the Hispanically Speaking News website, the H1N1 pandemic emerged in Mexico between March and April 2009, bringing Mexico City to a virtual stand-still.

The World Health Organization said in 2010 that it had killed at least 12,799 people worldwide since emerging, with the Americas continuing to report the biggest number of casualties, followed by Europe. H1N1 has since been declared a seasonal virus.

In Mexico, before local alerts began in June 2010, more than 70,000 people had contracted the disease resulting in about 1,300 deaths, the report said.

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Costa Rica has reported similar high rates of influenza and acute respiratory infections this year, with the the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) saying that the behavior of these diseases has been "unusual in recent weeks," Inside Costa Rica wrote.

Most of the cases are in the provinces of Cartago and San José.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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About 85 percent of those who died of influenza so far this year in Mexico had not been vaccinated against the flu.