Viewing cable 09VILNIUS619
Title: LITHUANIA REPORTS FIRST FLU DEATH AS EPIDEMIC IS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09VILNIUS6192009-11-19 15:18:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #0619 3231518
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191518Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3897
INFO RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN PRIORITY 2055
RUEHRA/AMEMBASSY RIGA PRIORITY 3684
RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN PRIORITY
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW PRIORITY 3824
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000619 
 
SIPDIS 
 
EMBASSY COPENHAGEN FOR REGIONAL ESTH OFFICER 
EMBASSY WARSAW FOR REGIONAL MEDICAL OFFICER 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KFLU TBIO PREL LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA REPORTS FIRST FLU DEATH AS EPIDEMIC IS 
DECLARED IN 12 AREAS 
 
REF: VILNIUS 596 
 
¶1.  SUMMARY:  A 14-year-old boy died in Kaunas of 
complications from H1N1 flu on November 17, giving Lithuania 
its first flu death of the season.  Health officials also 
announced that cases of flu and respiratory diseases have 
risen dramatically in the past week.  New cases have reached 
epidemic levels in at least 12 of the country's 60 
municipalities, including Vilnius, where 43 schools have 
closed because of high student and staff absenteeism.  The 
American International School of Vilnius (AISV), which many 
Embassy dependents attend, reported a 28 percent absence rate 
on November 19.  At the Embassy, the maintenance staff is 
cleaning frequently touched surfaces with a chlorine solution 
and is providing hand sanitizers in every office and in 
common areas throughout the Embassy compound.  End summary. 
 
¶2.  Lithuanian health officials on November 18 reported the 
country's first death tied to H1N1 flu after a 14-year-old 
boy without any reported underlying health conditions died 
the previous evening in a Kaunas hospital.  Kaunas, 
Lithuania's second city, announced November 19 that flu had 
reached epidemic levels there.  That level is defined as 100 
cases per 10,000 residents. 
 
¶3.  Minister of Health Algis Caplikas said November 16 that 
the number of cases of flu and similar respiratory illnesses 
had risen sharply over the preceding week, and that rapid 
increase has continued since then.  Pharmacies have 
repeatedly sold out of Tamiflu, face masks and other items 
used to ward off or treat flu, although new shipments have 
been arriving regularly to replenish the stocks.  The GOL, 
which had purchased 120,000 courses of Tamiflu and Relenza, 
began to release its supplies to hospitals and medical 
clinics. 
 
¶4.  At least 12 of Lithuania's 60 municipalities, including 
the two largest cities of Vilnius and Kaunas, had declared 
flu epidemics by November 19.  GOL health officials have 
asked recent medical graduates doing residencies, mostly in 
hospitals, to start working in polyclinics, which have 
experienced a massive increase in outpatient visits. 
 
¶5.  High absenteeism among students and staff have caused 
many schools to close.  Media reported that 43 schools were 
closed in Vilnius on November 19.  Nationwide, 170 schools 
were closed, health officials said.  Officials recommended 
that schools consider closing if absenteeism exceeds 20 
percent.  The Embassy's consular staff contacted a dozen 
schools in Vilnius on November 18 and found absenteeism rates 
ranging from 15 percent to 56 percent, with an average of 42 
percent.  Five of those schools decided to cancel all classes 
for a week, while others were canceling classes just for 
certain grades with high absenteeism. 
 
¶6.  At AISV, where 28 Embassy dependents are among the 190 
pupils in grades pre-K-3 through 11, absenteeism on November 
19 was about 28 percent.  The school board chairman, who is 
the Naval Attache at the Embassy, said the school director 
was closely monitoring student and staff absenteeism and had 
opted to leave the school open so far because there were no 
spikes in absences in any grade or class.  In an e-mail to 
parents, the director said that some of the absent students 
were kept home out of caution and not because they were ill, 
though he did urge parents to keep ill children out of 
school.  He also reported that one pupil from the school has 
tested positive for H1N1. 
 
¶7.  At the Embassy, maintenance staff are now using a weak 
chlorine solution to clean surfaces that are frequently 
touched, such as doorknobs, cipher locks and countertops. 
The Embassy had previously distributed alcohol-based hand 
sanitizers to every office, and is now providing them in 
high-traffic common areas throughout the Embassy compound. 
The health unit and ESTH officer continue to monitor the flu 
situation in Lithuania. 
DERSE