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One dead as swine flu returns to Venezuela

CARACAS, Mar 18 – At least one person has died from a resurgence of swine flu in Venezuela that infected 12 other people, Health Minister Eugenia Sader said Thursday.

"We have an outbreak of H1N1 in the state of Merida," she said, adding that 12 people have tested positive for the disease and a 32-year-old has died.

Sader said only one of those who tested positive had been hospitalized, with the others treating the disease at home.

Authorities emphasized that the latest outbreak was a far cry from the 2009 global swine flu pandemic, which killed 114 Venezuelans.

Sader said the disease may have been brought in by one of the 160,000 tourists who flocked to the western state of Merida, near the Colombian border, for a bull-fighting festival.

In 2009 the disease spread quickly among the Yanomani tribe, an indigenous people in a remote corner of the Amazon jungle straddling Brazil and Venezuela who at the time were recovering from earlier malaria and flu epidemics.

The swine flu — so named because it was first identified in pigs in Mexico — has killed some 18,500 people since emerging in the spring of 2009, according to the World Health Organization.

The WHO said the world had entered a "post-pandemic" phase in August 2010, with the outbreak having "largely run its course."

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