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Reassurance after swine flu death

The first swine flu death in the UK does not mean that the virus is changing, according to a leading expert.

Said Professor Hugh Pennington, a bacteriologist at Aberdeen University: "All the evidence to date suggests the virus is not changing at all.

"This is a flu virus, it is in no way different from an ordinary winter flu virus, so if there are enough cases, some will die."

The death at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley was one of 10 cases being treated in hospital in Scotland.

The patient had other health problems, and Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon added: "The vast majority of those who have H1N1 are suffering from relatively mild symptoms."

Underlying health problems are a "significant factor", said Professor Pennington, adding: "It makes it more likely that they will get the serious form of the virus in the first place."

A Health Protection Agency spokesman said: "In the majority of cases so far, swine flu has been generally mild but it is proving severe in a small minority of cases."

The UK total of cases now stands at 1,261 after a further 61 new cases in England and 35 in Scotland.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

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