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SWINE FLU: Only 7 Swine Deaths Around World - Not 152 - Says WHO

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Author Topic: SWINE FLU: Only 7 Swine Deaths Around World - Not 152 - Says WHO  (Read 287 times)
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« on: April 25, 2009, 07:41:41 am »

                                           Fear, anger and fatalism over swine flu in Mexico

Alexandra Olson,
Associated Press Writer
April 25, 2009

– The schools and museums are closed.

Sold-out games between Mexico's most popular soccer teams are being played in empty stadiums.

Health workers are ordering sickly passengers off subways and buses.

And while bars and nightclubs filled up as usual, even some teenagers were dancing with surgical masks on.

Across this overcrowded capital of 20 million people, Mexicans are reacting with fatalism and confusion, anger and mounting fear at the idea that their city may be ground zero for a global epidemic of a new kind of flu — a strange mix of human, pig and bird viruses that has epidemiologists deeply concerned.

Tests show 20 people in Mexico have died of the new swine flu strain, and that 48 other deaths were probably due to the same strain. The caseload of those sickened has grown to 1,004 nationwide, Mexico's Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said.

The same virus also sickened at least eight people in Texas and California, though there have been no deaths north of the border, puzzling experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scientists have warned for years about the potential for a pandemic from viruses that mix genetic material from humans and animals. This outbreak is particularly worrisome because deaths have happened in at least four different regions of Mexico, and because the victims have not been vulnerable infants and elderly.

The most notorious flu pandemic, thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults.

Authorities in the capital responded Friday with a sweeping shutdown of public places and events, urging people to stay home if they feel sick and to avoid shaking hands or kissing people on the cheeks.

Mexicans quickly got the message — and wanted to make sure their family members did, too.

Cristina Ceron, a 55-year-old waitress, called her daughter as soon as she got off work. "Please keep your mouth covered. And don't you eat street food," she pleaded through a white surgical mask.

In front of a Hospital Obregon in Mexico City's middle-class Roma district, a tired Dr. Roberto Ortiz, 59, leaned against a parked ambulance and sipped a coffee early Saturday on a break amid what he said was an unusually busy shift.

"The people are scared," Ortiz said. "A person gets some flu symptoms or a child gets a fever and they think it is this swine flu and rush to the hospital."

He said none of the cases so far at the hospital had turned out to be swine flu.

President Felipe Calderon said his government only discovered the nature of the virus late Thursday, with the help of international laboratories. "We are doing everything necessary," he said in a brief statement.

But the government had said for days that its growing flu caseload was nothing unusual, so the sudden turnaround, along with a flurry of warnings from disease experts, left many angry and confused.

"Why did it break out, where did it break out? What's the magnitude of the problem?" said pizzeria owner David Vasquez, who was taking his family out to see "Monsters vs. Aliens" at a movie theater despite the urging of health officials that city residents stay home Friday night.

It was his son's 10th birthday, and he couldn't bear to cancel their outing. Vasquez said he would keep the family home the rest of the weekend.

The outbreak even hit Mexico's beloved national pastime — two sold-out football matches Sunday — Pumas vs. Chivas and America vs. Tecos — will be played in empty stadiums to prevent the spread of the disease.

Health workers also staffed the international airport and bus and subway stations, handing out masks and trying to steer away anyone who appeared sick. Many commuters wore masks, but there weren't enough to go around. One woman leaving a station nervously pulled her sweater over her face as her companion laughed and rolled his eyes.

A nearby pharmacy put up signs reading "We don't have masks" in black magic marker after selling out all 150 in stock.

Scientists have long been concerned that a new killer flu could evolve when different viruses infect a pig, a person or a bird, mingling their genetic material. The resulting hybrid could spread quickly because people would have no natural defenses against it.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2009, 08:03:53 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2009, 07:43:53 am »

The WHO was convening an expert panel this weekend to consider whether to raise the pandemic alert level or issue travel advisories. Agency chief Margaret Chan arrived in Geneva on Saturday to oversee its handling of the outbreak. The CDC and Canadian health officials were studying samples sent from Mexico, and some governments around Latin America said they would monitor passengers arriving on flights from Mexico.

But it may be too late to contain the outbreak, given how widespread the known cases are. If the confirmed deaths are the first signs of a pandemic, then cases are probably incubating around the world by now, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a pandemic flu expert at the University of Minnesota.

In New York City, health officials say about 75 students at a Queens high school have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms and testing is under way to rule out that is the same strain of swine flu found in Mexico. Results could take several days.

No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer.

A "seed stock" genetically matched to the new swine flu virus has been created by the CDC, said Dr. Richard Besser, the agency's acting director. If the government decides vaccine production is necessary, manufacturers would need that stock to get started. Actually producing the vaccines could take months.

The CDC says two flu drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, seem effective against the new strain. Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the company is prepared to immediately deploy a stockpile of the drug if requested. Both drugs must be taken early, within a few days of the onset of symptoms, to be most effective.

Cordova said Mexico has enough Tamiflu to treat 1 million people — only one in 20 people in greater Mexico City alone — and that the medicine will be strictly controlled and handed out only by doctors.

This swine flu and regular flu can have similar symptoms — mostly fever, cough and sore throat, though some of the U.S. victims who recovered also experienced vomiting and diarrhea.

At Mexico's National Institute of Respiratory Illnesses, Adrian Anda waited to hear whether his 15-year-old daughter had the frightening new disease. She had been suffering a cough and fever for a week.

"If they say that it is, then we'll suffer. Until then, we don't want to think about it," he said.

Miguel Cruz, a 20-year-old office supply store employee, said his mother sent him to ask about vaccines at a public hospital. He was given masks instead, which he and his girlfriend wore as they relaxed in a plaza.

A little girl in dirty clothes came over to sell them candy. They gave her mask, too.

"You know, they stay here and end up sleeping on the streets," said Cruz, watching the giggling girl scamper off.

In Mexico City's Zona Rosa neighborhood, teenagers with spiky hair and tight jeans laughed at the danger.

"People are giving too much importance to something that isn't that big of a deal," said Oscar Zarate, 19, shouting over the loud music and the jostling crowd outside a packed night club.

But his friend Leroy Villaluna was slipping a blue surgical mask on and off.

"Well, I guess I am a little afraid," Villaluna said with an embarrassed laugh. "And also, my mom was worried and told me that if I had to go out I should at least cover my mouth."


Associated Press Writers

Traci Carl,
Mark Stevenson,
Carlos Rodriguez,
David Koop and
Istra Pacheco
in Mexico City;

Mike Stobbe
in Atlanta;

Malcolm Ritter
in New York; and

Maria Cheng
in London

contributed to this report
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2009, 07:47:04 am »

                                      Deadly flu strain threatens Mexico and U.S.

Catherine Bremer
– Sat Apr 25, 2009

– Mexican and U.S. health officials searched on Saturday for signs an outbreak of a new flu strain is spreading further, after it killed up to 68 people in Mexico and infected eight in the United States.

As Mexico shut schools and museums and axed public events, global health officials stopped short of declaring a pandemic.

But they warned more cases could come to light, making up a major outbreak, as the flu spreads between people and infected some individuals who had no contact with one another.

The World Health Organization said the virus from 12 of the Mexican patients was the same genetically as a new strain of swine flu, designated H1N1, seen in eight people in California and Texas who later recovered.

The Mexican government said the flu had killed 20 people and it may also be responsible for 48 other deaths. In all, 1,004 suspected cases have been reported nationwide.

Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova, speaking on the evening television news, encouraged people to avoid crowds and wear face masks, noting there was no guarantee that going to get a flu vaccine would help against the new strain.

He said the death rate appeared to have steadied and hospitals in the past few days had not seen the exponential rise in the number of people infected that many had feared.

Genetic analysis shows the flu strain is a never-before-seen mixture of swine, human and avian viruses.

The fact most of the dead were aged between 25 and 45 was seen as a worrying sign linked to pandemics, as seasonal flu tends to be more deadly among the elderly and the very young.

"We realize the seriousness of this problem," Mexican President Felipe Calderon told health officials on Friday.
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2009, 07:48:20 am »


In California, Dr. Gil Chavez, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health and the state's chief epidemiologist, said many more cases could come to light as patients are tested. "The more we look the more we are likely to find," he said.

In New York City, health officials were investigating what had sickened scores of students who fell ill with flu-like symptoms in a Queens high school on Thursday and Friday. The symptoms were reported as mild and a city health official said he could not speculate about which flu strain was responsible.

The U.S. government said it was taking the situation seriously and monitoring for any new developments.

As far away as Hong Kong -- the epicenter of the 2003 SARS epidemic and especially vigilant to any threat of infectious disease -- the government's Center for Health Protection said it was closely monitoring investigations in the United States and would analyze flu samples in the territory.

Cordova said Mexico had 1 million doses of antiviral medicine, easily enough to treat the cases reported so far.

In Mexico City, a crowded metropolis of 20 million people, soldiers handed out surgical masks and the government warned people to avoid close physical contact and sharing food.

Finnish rock band The Rasmus canceled a Mexico City concert and the Mexican Football Federation said two weekend soccer matches would be played with no spectators present as a precaution.

DVD rental stores said customers poured in to rent movies on Friday night so they could huddle inside for the weekend.

The last flu pandemic was in 1968 when "Hong Kong" flu killed about a million people globally.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2009, 08:09:34 am »

                                         Questions and answers about swine flu

The Associated Press
– Fri Apr 24, 2009

Mexico is contending with an outbreak of swine flu, suspected in the deaths of dozens of people and sickening perhaps 1,000. In the United States, at least eight cases have been confirmed with the infection, all of them in California and Texas; only one person was hospitalized. Here are some questions and answers about the illness:

Q. What is swine flu?

A. Swine flu is a respiratory illness in pigs caused by a virus. The swine flu virus routinely causes outbreaks in pigs but doesn't usually kill many of them.

Q. Can people get swine flu?

A. Swine flu viruses don't usually infect humans. There have been occasional cases, usually among people who've had direct contact with infected pigs, such as farm workers. "We've seen swine influenza in humans over the past several years, and in most cases, it's come from direct pig contact. This seems to be different," said Dr. Arnold Monto, a flu expert with the University of Michigan.

Q. Can it spread among humans?

A. There have been cases of the virus spreading from human to human, probably in the same way as seasonal flu, through coughing and sneezing by infected people.

Q. What are the symptoms of swine flu?

A. The symptoms are similar to those of regular flu — fever, cough, fatigue, lack of appetite.

Q. Is the same swine flu virus making people sick in Mexico and the U.S.?

A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Mexican virus samples match the U.S. virus. The virus is a mix of human virus, bird virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.

Q. Are there drugs to treat swine flu in humans?

A. There are four different drugs approved in the U.S. to treat the flu, but the new virus has shown resistance to the two oldest. The CDC recommends the use of the flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.

Q. Does a regular flu shot protect against swine flu?

A. The seasonal flu vaccine used in the U.S. this year won't likely provide protection against the latest swine flu virus. There is a swine flu vaccine for pigs but not for humans.

Q. Should residents of California or Texas do anything special?

A. The CDC recommends routine precautions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases: wash your hands often, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay at home and limit contact with others.

Q. What about traveling to Mexico?

A. The CDC has not warned Americans against traveling to Mexico but advises that they be aware of the illnesses there and take precautions to protect against infections, like washing their hands.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2009, 08:13:07 am »

                             At Least 20 Dead, Hundreds Ill in Swine Flu Outbreak in Mexico

Steven Reinberg
healthday Reporter –
FRIDAY, April 24, 2009
(HealthDay News)

 -- Mexican officials took extraordinary steps Friday to try to contain a swine flu outbreak that has killed as many as 20 people, and possibly dozens more, and sickened more than 1,000 other people in recent weeks.

World Health Organization officials worried that it could mark the start of a flu pandemic, according to published reports, although several infectious disease experts in the United States said that was unlikely.

Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that tests showed some of the Mexico victims died from the same new strain of swine flu that sickened eight people in Texas and California. It's a worrisome new strain that combines genetic material from pigs, birds and humans. All eight U.S. patients have recovered.

The World Health Organization said that at least 57 people have died in the outbreak in Mexico, but it wasn't yet clear if this larger number of deaths was due to swine flu, the Associated Press reported.

"The United States government is working with the World Health Organization and other international partners to assure early detection and warning and to respond as rapidly as possible to this threat," Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC, said during a Friday afternoon press briefing.

"We do not know if this swine flu virus or some other influenza virus will lead to the next pandemic," he added. "However, scientists around the world continue to monitor the virus and take its threat seriously."

Thomas Abraham, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said, "We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from human to human." If international spread is confirmed, that meets WHO's criteria for raising the pandemic alert level, he added.

Besser said the CDC has issued an outbreak notice for travelers to central Mexico and Mexico City, alerting people to the flu outbreak. "At this time there are no recommendations for U.S. travelers to change, restrict or alter their travel plans to Texas, California or Mexico," he said.

In response to the outbreak, Mexico City closed schools -- from kindergartens to the university level -- as well as museums, libraries, and state-run theaters across the metropolis of 20 million people on Friday, and urged people with flu symptoms to stay home from work, according to published reports.

"We're dealing with a new flu virus that constitutes a respiratory epidemic that so far is controllable," Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova told reporters late Thursday, after meeting with President Felipe Calderon and other top officials. He said the virus had mutated from pigs and had at some point been transmitted to humans, The New York Times reported.

While Mexico's flu season is usually over by now, health officials noticed a sizeable uptick in flu cases in recent weeks. The World Health Organization reported about 800 cases of flu-like symptoms in Mexico in recent weeks, most of them among healthy young adults, with 57 deaths in Mexico City and three in central Mexico, the Times said.

That could be worrisome. Seasonal flus usually strike hardest at infants and the elderly, but pandemic flus -- such as the 1918 Spanish flu -- often strike young, healthy people, the newspaper reported.

On Thursday, U.S. health officials had announced that seven people in California and Texas had been diagnosed with a unique form of swine flu
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2009, 08:14:27 am »

On Friday, another case of swine flu had been confirmed in a child in San Diego, bringing the total number of U.S. cases to eight, Besser said. The child has recovered from the illness, he added.

All of the U.S. patients have recovered, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a Thursday afternoon teleconference. "So far this is not looking like a very severe influenza," she said.

The seven patients originally reported to the CDC ranged in age from 9 to 54, Schuchat said on Thursday. The first two cases were reported Tuesday in California, she said.

"At this point we don't know the extent of the spread of this strain of human influenza derived from swine," Schuchat said. "We don't know exactly how people got the virus. None of the patients have had direct contact with pigs."

People can get the virus without contact with pigs, but that's unusual, Schuchat said. "We believe at this point that human-to-human spread is occurring," she said. "We are likely to find more cases and that will not be surprising."

According to Schuchat, the virus in the United States is influenza A N1H1 mixed with swine influenza viruses. The virus contains genetic pieces from four different flu viruses -- North American swine influenza, North American avian influenza, human influenza viruses and swine influenza viruses found in Asia and Europe, she said.

"That particular genetic combination of swine influenza viruses has not been recognized before in the U.S. or elsewhere," Schuchat said.

The viruses found in the U.S. are resistant to two antiviral medications -- amantadine and rimantadine -- but are susceptible to the antivirals oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), Schuchat said.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza. Swine flu does not normally infect humans. However, human infections do occur, usually after exposure to pigs. Symptoms resemble those of the regular flu, including sore throat, coughing and fever.

CDC investigators were working with health officials in California and Texas to identify the source of the infection and to see if any other people have contracted it, Schuchat said.

The CDC is also asking doctors to be on the lookout for cases of flu that are hard to identify, and send samples of the virus to their state health department. In addition, the CDC is working with the virus to prepare a vaccine should there be a need to produce one against the virus, officials said.

Dr. Pascal James Imperato is dean and distinguished service professor of the Graduate Program in Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center Brooklyn, and was director of the Swine Influenza Immunization Program for New York City during the outbreak in 1976. "The virus identified in the recently reported human cases in the U.S. contained genetic elements from several influenza viruses," he said. "While the array of genetic elements seems unusual, it is not unusual for swine flu viruses to contain multiple genetic elements. Also, it is difficult to know how long this virus has been circulating because it was not a special focus of the international influenza surveillance system."

Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, said the current outbreak was unlikely to become a pandemic. "Swine flu could cause the next pandemic, but it is not likely that this thing is going to erupt and take over the world," he said. Even though the virus is being transmitted human-to-human, "that's a far cry from becoming a pandemic," he added.

Dr. Martin J. Blaser, chairman of the Department of Medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, also believes it's unlikely the outbreak will trigger a pandemic.

"The CDC has been doing more surveillance for flu," Blaser said. "So it could be that these cases have been happening all the time, but we just never saw them. Or it is possible that it is a new strain of influenza that is emerging or it's a dangerous new combination. That's why we have to watch it closely."

More information

For more on swine flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2009, 08:25:03 am »


                                        CDC Readies Vaccine in Case of Swine Flu Pandemic
Alice Park
– Sat Apr 25, 2009

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged on Friday that "concern has grown" since the first reports of a novel swine flu infecting patients in Texas and California emerged late March.

Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the agency, said health officials are closely tracking the spread of the swine flu, after additional cases of flu and some deaths were reported in Mexico. Preliminary testing of flu viruses in patients in Mexico and the U.S. show that the strains are similar. Of the 14 samples of suspected swine flu from Mexico that the CDC has tested so far, half are positive for swine flu, a form of influenza that normally infects pigs and can be transmitted to people. (See pictures of the world's most polluted places.)

So far, eight residents of San Diego and Imperial counties in California, and San Antonio, Texas, have tested positive for the new swine flu strain - an as yet unseen combination of swine flu, bird flu and human influenza viruses. There have been no deaths in the U.S. associated with the virus; so far the infections, which cause typical flu-like symptoms, are being controlled with antiviral medications, and only one patient has required hospitalization.

Besser says it's too early to raise alarms about a pandemic flu, but officials are watching the new virus closely and aggressively, since the geographic distance between the infected patients suggests that it can be transmitted easily from person to person (apparently none of the patients had come into contact with pigs). The CDC is working with the World Health Organization to keep track of any additional cases to determine whether and when a warning of a pandemic would be warranted. In preparation for such a scenario, the CDC has created a seed stock of a vaccine against the swine flu, which could be pushed into production should the number of cases jump significantly. The CDC did not specify what the threshold for vaccine production would be.

In the meantime, the government has not restricted travel to Mexico, California or Texas, but has issued an outbreak notice to inform travelers to those areas that cases of a contagious respiratory illness have been reported. In the affected regions, the CDC is recommending that doctors test samples from people complaining of flu-like symptoms to determine if they are infected with the new swine flu strain.
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2009, 10:03:35 am »

                                         Fighting Deadly Flu, Mexico Shuts Schools

     The World Health Organization planned to consider raising the world pandemic flu alert to 4 from 3.

                           Such a high level of alert has not been reached in recent years,

                              even with the H5N1 avian flu circulating in Asia and Egypt.


April 24, 2009

— Mexican officials, scrambling to control a swine flu outbreak that has killed as many as 61 people and infected possibly hundreds more in recent weeks, closed museums and shuttered schools for millions of students in and around the capital on Friday, and urged people with flu symptoms to stay home from work.

Health officials urged anyone with a fever, a cough, a sore throat, shortness of breath or muscle and joint pain to seek medical attention.

“We’re dealing with a new flu virus that constitutes a respiratory epidemic that so far is controllable,” Mexico’s health minister, José Ángel Córdova, told reporters after huddling with President Felipe Calderón and other top officials on Thursday night to come up with an action plan. He said the virus had mutated from pigs and had at some point been transmitted to humans.

The new strain contains gene sequences from North American and Eurasian swine flus, North American bird flu and North American human flu, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A similar virus has been found in the American Southwest, where officials have reported eight nonfatal cases.

Most of Mexico’s dead were young, healthy adults, and none were over 60 or under 3 years old, the World Health Organization said. That alarms health officials because seasonal flus cause most of their deaths among infants and bedridden elderly people, but pandemic flus — like the 1918 Spanish flu, and the 1957 and 1968 pandemics — often strike young, healthy people the hardest.

Mexican officials promised a huge immunization campaign in the capital in the coming days, while urging people to avoid large gatherings and to refrain from shaking hands or greeting women with a kiss on the right cheek, as is common in Mexico.

Mexico City closed museums and other cultural venues, and advised people not to attend movies or public events. Seven million students, from kindergartners to college students, were kept from classes in Mexico City and the neighboring State of Mexico on Friday, in what news organizations called the first citywide closing of schools since a powerful earthquake in 1985.

Because of the situation, the World Health Organization planned to consider raising the world pandemic flu alert to 4 from 3. Such a high level of alert — meaning that sustained human-to-human transmission of a new virus has been detected — has not been reached in recent years, even with the H5N1 avian flu circulating in Asia and Egypt, and would “really raise the hackles of everyone around the world,” said Dr. Robert G. Webster, a flu virus expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Mexico’s flu season is usually over by now, but health officials have noticed a significant spike in flu cases since mid-March. The W.H.O. said there had been 800 cases in Mexico in recent weeks, 60 of them fatal, of a flulike illness that appeared to be more serious than the regular seasonal flu. Mr. Córdova said Friday that there were 1,004 possible cases.

Still, only a small number have been confirmed as cases of the new H1N1 swine flu, according to Gregory Hartl, a W.H.O. spokesman. Mexican authorities confirmed 16 deaths from swine flu and said 45 others were under investigation, most of them in the Mexico City area. The C.D.C. said that eight nonfatal cases had been confirmed in the United States, and that it had sent teams to California and Texas to investigate.

“We are worried,” said Dr. Richard Besser, the acting head of the C.D.C. “We don’t know if this will lead to the next pandemic, but we will be monitoring it and taking it seriously.”

There is no point in trying to use containment measures in the United States, he said, because the swine flu virus has already appeared from San Antonio to San Diego, without any obvious connections among cases. Containment measures usually work only when a disease is confined to a small area, he said.

The C.D.C. refrained from warning people not to visit Mexico. Even so, the outbreak comes at an awful time for tourism officials, who have been struggling to counter the perception that violence has made Mexico unsafe for travelers. The outbreak was also causing alarm among Mexicans, many of whom rushed to buy masks or get checkups.

“I hope it’s not something grave,” said Claudia Cruz, who took her 11-year-old son, Efrain, to a clinic on Friday after hearing the government warnings.

Health officials urged anyone with a fever, a cough, a sore throat, shortness of breath or muscle and joint pain to seek medical attention.

When a new virus emerges, it can sweep through the population, said Dr. Anne Moscona, a flu specialist at Cornell University’s medical school. The Spanish flu is believed to have infected at least 25 percent of the United States population, but killed less than 3 percent of those infected.

The leading theory on why so many young, healthy people die in pandemics is the “cytokine storm,” in which vigorous immune systems pour out antibodies to attack the new virus. That can inflame lung cells until they leak fluid, which can overwhelm the lungs, Dr. Moscona said.

But older people who have had the flu repeatedly in their lives may have some antibodies that provide cross-protection to the new strain, she said. And immune responses among the aged are not as vigorous.

Despite the alarm in recent years over the H5N1 avian flu, which is still circulating in China, Indonesia, Egypt and elsewhere, some flu experts argued that it would never cause a pandemic, because no H5 strain ever had. All previous pandemics have been caused by H1s, H2s or H3s.

Among the swine flu cases in the United States, none had had any contact with pigs; cases involving a father and daughter and two 16-year-old schoolmates convinced the authorities that the virus was being transmitted from person to person.

In Canada, hit by the SARS epidemic in 2003, health officials urged those who had recently traveled to Mexico and become ill to seek treatment immediately.

Marc Lacey
reported from Mexico City, and

Donald G. McNeil Jr.
from New York.

Ian Austen
contributed reporting
from Ottawa.
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2009, 11:56:10 pm »

When will America come up with a remedy for this horrible situation?  The Mexican people are suffering!  Please write President Obama, urging him to do something.
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2009, 07:20:16 am »

Stop expecting the U.S. to cure all the ills of the world, Juan Carlos.

America is already supporting millions and millions of Mexican ILLEGALS,  bankrupting hospital and other services, so that its own people must do without.  ILLEGALS who sent money back to Mexico instead
of spending the money where they earn it, HERE. 

No matter how you look at it, it's GIMME, GIMME, GIMME with ILLEGAL immigrants.  NEVER  a word of gratitude
or appreciation for THIS country.  SHAMEFUL!!!


This story in today's NewYorkTimes - after 4 pages you can't help but deduce that this family is 'going crazy'
trying to find ways to EXPLOIT the US as much as they can, then hightail it back to their country of ORIGIN!

The US is in deep trouble financially and here you are demanding, demanding, demanding.....
But, of course, you do not keep up with the U.S. News, do you?  What do you care?

FYI, here is a small sample of the plight of REAL Americans:,17632.0.html

Why don't you spend your energy in changing things in Mexico?  Mexico HAS more than enough
resources of its own to take care of its own people.  You are just too lazy to change things in your
own country. 

Better you start a writing campaign to MEXICO's own President.

I, as a LEGAL immigrant, who obeys the laws of this country, really resent your attitude!!!
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2009, 07:21:44 am »

                                          81 feared dead from swine flu in Mexico

Sophie Nicholson
April 26, 2009

– Mexicans were taking new precautions on Sunday amid fears that a new flu epidemic believed to have killed up to 81 people in the country could reach "pandemic" proportions and spread to the United States and worldwide.

Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova raised the probable death toll from the new multi-strain swine flu in Mexico to 81, including 20 already confirmed.

Earlier, Mexican President Felipe Calderon published an order giving his government extraordinary powers to tackle the deadly outbreak, as at least two new cases were reported in the United States, bringing the total infected there to 10.

"This virus has clearly a pandemic potential," World Health Organization director general, Margaret Chan, said on Saturday.

The Geneva-based UN agency branded the outbreak "a public health emergency of international concern," following a meeting of its emergency committee.

In a statement it said it was recommending that all nations "intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia".

In Mexico, 13 new suspect cases were reported in the past 24 hours and a total of 1,324 patients with flu symptoms were under investigation, Health Minister Cordova said.

Since April 13, "there have been 81 registered deaths which are probably linked to the virus of which only 20 cases have virological checks," Cordova told a news conference after meeting with health officials from across the country.

The Mexico government has upped emergency measures that were put into place only on Friday.

Officials have canceled hundreds of public events and closed schools for millions of students in and around the capital.

Schools in those areas and also San Luis Potosi in central Mexico, the third most affected area, will remain closed until May 6, Cordova said.

The traditional Sunday mass was suspended in Catholic churches throughout the country.

Many Mexico City residents wore freely-distributed surgical masks on the streets Saturday, after authorities urged people to avoid contact in public.

Apart from the capital, four other deaths were reported in central, northwest and southern Mexico.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said that more than 500 sporting and cultural events had been canceled for at least 10 days.

Mexico City authorities have said they had more than one million doses of suitable antiviral drugs, in an urban area of some 20 million.

The government also assured citizens it had "sufficient" funds reaching 450 million dollars to combat the epidemic.

Across the northern border, health authorities in the central US state of Kansas confirmed two cases of swine flu on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the United States to at least 10.

One of the victims was still ill, while the other had recovered, Kansas health authorities said. One of the patients had recently traveled to Mexico.

"Both persons ... became ill with the same unique (H1N1) strain of swine flu that has been identified in Mexico, California and Texas," Kansas officials said in a statement read.

Earlier on Saturday in New York officials said eight to nine students at a New York City school were suspected of having swine flu, although test results are still pending.

Meanwhile, a British Airways cabin crew staff member was being treated in a London hospital with "flu-like symptoms" after arriving on a flight from Mexico City, health officials said Saturday.

A hospital spokesman said the man was responding well to treatment.

"With infections in many different communities as we're seeing, we don't think that containment is feasible," said Anne Schuchat of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Asian health officials went on alert and urged the public to be vigilant Sunday.

Governments across the region, which has in recent years been at the forefront of the SARS and bird flu epidemics, urged the public, and especially travellers, to be on guard for symptoms of the new multi-strain of swine fever.

In New Zealand, a 25-strong school group was quarantined pending the results of medical tests after returning from Mexico with flu-like symptoms, local health authorities said.

Results were expected later Sunday.

In Japan, airports tightened checks on passengers arriving from Mexico, with quarantine officials giving out face masks and using thermography imaging cameras to screen for passengers with a fever.

Like most governments in the region, Australia urged people who had recently returned from Mexico and had developed flu-like symptoms to seek medical advice.

South Korean health, agriculture and foreign ministry officials held an emergency meeting to discuss the issue, while in China, the health ministry said it was "paying close attention" to the situation.

The CDC said some Mexican victims had died from the same new strain of swine flu that affected eight people in Texas and California.

Dave Daigle, of the CDC, said a bird flu strain, two swine flu strains and a human strain had combined for the first time.

"The most worrying fact is that it appears to transmit from human to human," said WHO spokesman Thomas Abraham.

These features, along with the fact that unusually young healthy adults have fallen victim in Mexico, and not the very old or very young, have given rise to fears of an epidemic or even a pandemic.

According to the WHO, pigs have already been factors in the appearance of two previously unknown diseases that gave rise to pandemics in the last century.

If a pig is simultaneously infected with a human and an avian influenza virus, it can serve as a "mixing vessel" for the two viruses that could combine to create a new, more virulent strain.
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2009, 07:29:02 am »

                                    NY awaits confirmation of probable swine flu cases

Verena Dobnik,
Associated Press Writer
April 26, 2009

– Students at a New York City high school could learn as early as Sunday if the flu that sickened them was the same strain of the human swine influenza that has killed people in Mexico.

Preliminary tests of samples taken from sick students' noses and throats confirmed that at least eight had a non-human strain of influenza type A, indicating probable cases of swine flu, city health officials said. The exact subtypes were still unknown, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was conducting further tests.

So far, there have been at least 11 confirmed cases of swine flu in California, Texas and Kansas. Patients have ranged in age from 9 to over 50. At least two were hospitalized. All recovered or are recovering.

New York health officials said more than 100 students at the St. Francis Preparatory School, in Queens, recently began suffering a fever, sore throat and aches and pains. Some of their relatives also have been ill.

Workers were sanitizing the school as a precaution. But a class reunion featuring cocktails, dinner and dancing for hundreds of alumni from as far back as 1939 went on as scheduled Saturday.

Symptoms in the New York cases have been mild, said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden. But the illnesses have caused concern because of the outbreak in Mexico, where health officials say a strain of swine flu has killed up to 81 people and sickened more than 1,000.

The World Health Organization chief said Saturday that the strain has "pandemic potential," and it might be too late to contain a sudden outbreak.

If the CDC confirms that the New York students have swine flu, Frieden said he likely will recommend that the school remain closed Monday "out of an abundance of caution."

State infectious-diseases, epidemiology and disaster preparedness workers have been dispatched to monitor and respond to possible cases of the flu. Gov. David Paterson said 1,500 treatment courses of the antiviral Tamiflu had been sent to New York City.

The city health department has asked doctors to be extra vigilant and test patients who have flu symptoms and have traveled recently to California, Texas or Mexico.

Investigators also were testing children who fell ill at a day care center in the Bronx. Two families in Manhattan also have contacted the city, saying they had recently returned ill from Mexico with flu symptoms, Frieden said.

Frieden said New Yorkers having trouble breathing due to an undiagnosed respiratory illness should seek treatment but shouldn't become overly alarmed. Medical facilities near St. Francis Prep have already been flooded with people overreacting to the outbreak, he said.

Kansas health officials said Saturday that they had confirmed swine flu in a married couple living in the central part of the state after the husband visited Mexico. The couple, who live in Dickinson County, weren't hospitalized, and the state described their illnesses as mild.

"Fortunately, the man and woman understand the gravity of the situation and are very willing to isolate themselves," said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, the state health officer.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A flu viruses, the CDC's Web site says. Human cases are uncommon but can occur in people who are around pigs. It also can be spread from person to person. Symptoms include a high fever, body aches, coughing, sore throat and respiratory congestion.

At least nine swine flu cases have been reported in California and Texas. The most recent California case, the state's seventh, was a 35-year-old woman from Imperial County who got sick in early April. She had no known contact with the others.

Health officials are concerned because people appear to have no immunity to the virus, a combination of bird, swine and human influenzas. The virus also presents itself like other swine flus, but none of the U.S. cases appear to involve direct contact with pigs, Eberhart-Phillips said.


Associated Press writer
John Hanna
contributed to this report
from Topeka, Kan.
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2009, 07:33:21 am »

                                      10 New Zealand students 'likely' have swine flu

Associated Press Writer
Ray Lilley,
Associated Press Writer
April 26, 2009
New Zealand

– New Zealand said Sunday that 10 students "likely" have swine flu after a school trip to Mexico, as governments across Asia began quarantining those with symptoms of the deadly virus and some issued travel warnings for Mexico.

New Zealand Health Minister Tony Ryall said none of the patients was seriously ill and they seemed to be recovering. He said they tested positive for influenza but added that there was "no guarantee" the students had swine flu.

The Israeli Health Ministry also said there is one suspected case in the country. A man who had recently visited Mexico has been hospitalized with flu symptoms while authorities try to determine whether it's actually swine flu.

At least 81 people have died from severe pneumonia caused by the flu-like illness in Mexico, according to the World Health Organization, which declared the virus a public health emergency of "pandemic potential."

The virus is usually contracted through direct contact with pigs, though some limited cases of human-to-human transmission have been reported. Health officials have sought to reassure people that it is safe to eat pork cooked thoroughly, but some governments were increasing their screening of pigs and pork imports.

The 10 students were among 13 from New Zealand's largest high school quarantined and tested for the virus after returning from Mexico. In all, 25 students and teachers arrived in the northern city of Auckland on Saturday on a flight from Los Angeles. One student had to be hospitalized, said Auckland Regional Public Health Services director Dr. Julia Peters.

"Ten students have tested positive for Influenza A, and these results will now be sent to the World Health Organization laboratory in Melbourne to ascertain whether it is the H1N1 swine influenza."

H1N1 influenza is a subset of influenza A that is a combination of bird, pig and human viruses, according to the WHO. Symptoms include a fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), body aches, coughing, a sore throat, respiratory congestion and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

At this stage other passengers on their flight were not being sought, said Health Ministry spokesman Michael Flyger.

Governments across the Asia-Pacific region and in the Middle East were stepping up surveillance for the deadly virus after Mexico closed schools, museums, libraries and theaters in a bid to contain the outbreak. About 1,000 people may have been sickened there. U.S. authorities said 11 people were infected with swine flu, and all recovered or are recovering.

At Tokyo's Narita airport — among the world's busiest with more than 96,000 passengers each day — officials installed a device at the arrival gate for flights from Mexico to measure the temperatures of passengers.

Hong Kong and Taiwan say visitors to infected areas who have fevers will be quarantined — a precaution the Philippines is also considering. The Chinese territory also joined South Korea in warning against travel to Mexico. Seoul particularly urged its citizens not to travel to the Mexican capital and three affected provinces.

Indonesia has increased surveillance at all entry points for travelers with flu-like symptoms — using devices at airports that were put in place years ago to monitor for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and bird flu. It said it was ready to quarantine suspected victims if necessary.

China said anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms within two weeks of arriving in the country from swine-flu affected territories was required to report to authorities.

South Korea said it would bolster its quarantine measures on pork products from Mexico and the United States in the hopes of calming fears about buying and eating pork. But the country said it has no immediate plans to suspend pork imports from the North America.

Japanese Agriculture Minister Shigeru Ishiba appeared on TV to calm consumers, saying it was safe to eat pork.

In Egypt, health authorities are examining about 350,000 pigs being raised in Cairo and other provinces for swine flu. Hamed Samaha, head of the General Institute for Veterinary Health Care, urged the government to consider moving pig farms out of populated areas. Although Egypt is predominantly Muslim, about 10 percent of its population of 76 million is Christian and it has a large tourist industry.

Asia has grappled in recent years with the H5N1 bird flu virus, which has killed at least 257 people worldwide since late 2003, according to WHO. Egypt is the largest bird flu hot spot in the world outside Asia because poultry is often raised in close proximity to homes.

Scientists have warned for years about the potential for a pandemic caused by viruses that mix genetic material from humans and animals. No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer.


Associated Press writers

Shino Yuasa
in Tokyo,

Gillian Wong
in Beijing,

Oliver Teves
in Manila,

Dikky Sinn
in Hong Kong,

Grant Peck
in Bangkok,

Julia Zappei
in Kuala Lumpur,

Hyun-jin Kim
in Seoul,

Kristen Gelineau
in Sydney, and

Ian Deitich
in Jerusalem

contributed to this report.
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« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2009, 07:35:52 am »

                                        Swine flu epidemic fear grows, world on alert

Catherine Bremer
April 26, 2009

– Governments around the world rushed on Sunday to check the spread of a new type of swine flu that has killed up to 81 people in Mexico and infected around a dozen in the United States.

Mexicans huddled in their homes while U.S. hospitals tracked patients with flu symptoms and other countries imposed health checks at airports as the World Health Organization warned the virus had the potential to become a pandemic.

The epidemic has snowballed into a monster headache for Mexico, already grappling with a violent drug war and economic slowdown, and has quickly become one of the biggest global health scares in years.

Mexico's tourism and retail sectors could be badly hit. A new pandemic would deal a major blow to a world economy already suffering its worst recession in decades.

In New Zealand, 10 pupils from an Auckland school party that had returned from Mexico were being treated for influenza symptoms in what health authorities said was a likely case of swine flu, although they added none was seriously ill.

The WHO declared the flu a "public health event of international concern." WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan urged greater worldwide surveillance for any unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness.

"(We are) monitoring minute by minute the evolution of this problem across the whole country," Mexican President Felipe Calderon said as health officials counted suspected infections in six states from the tropical south to the northern border.

While all the deaths so far have been in Mexico, the flu is spreading in the United States. Eleven cases were confirmed in California, Kansas and Texas, and eight schoolchildren in New York City caught a type A influenza virus that health officials say is likely to be the swine flu.

The new flu strain, a mixture of various swine, bird and human viruses, poses the biggest risk of a large-scale pandemic since avian flu surfaced in 1997, killing several hundred people. A 1968 "Hong Kong" flu pandemic killed about 1 million people globally.

New flu strains can spread quickly because no one has natural immunity to them and a vaccine takes months to develop.
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