At Least 86 Deaths in Mexico 'Likely Linked' to Swine Flu Outbreak
Officials in Mexico are asking citizens to take actions in order to minimize the spread of the swine flu outbreak. Citizens are urged to stay away from large crowds, avoid kissing people and stay at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from one another. Additionally, all schools and universities in Mexico City have been closed indefinitely. In addition, at least twenty people in the United States have been infected with the disease, causing the government to issue a “national public health emergency.”
On Sunday, Mexican officials reported that at least 81 deaths in their country were “likely linked” to the swine flu. Dr. Jose A. Cordova Villalobos, the health secretary of Mexico, said that at least 20 of the deaths have been confirmed as swine flu related deaths while the World Health Organization (WHO) says that 71 people have died from complications caused by the disease. Meanwhile, over 1,300 people in Mexico have been hospitalized because of flu-like symptoms since April 13.
In New Zealand, 25 students and teachers might have been infected by the flu during their trip to Mexico. Dr. Julia Peters, the clinical director of Auckland Regional Public Health Service, said that at least 14 have shown flu-like symptoms. All of the students and teachers are being quarantined pending test results. Similar health scares occurred in Israel. France, Spain and the United Kingdom, where people with flu-like symptoms have been tested for the swine flu. In the UK, test results came back negative for the deadly strain, while results from Israel, France and Spain are still pending.
In the United States, there have been twenty confirmed cases of swine-flu in the states of Kansas, Texas and California. Today, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reported that at least 8 students from a New York preparatory school have contracted the mutated flu strain. The White House also said today that there was at least one confirmed case of the disease in Ohio, prompting the federal government to declare a “public health emergency.”
Robert Gibbs, a White House spokesman, said that the swine flu outbreak “is of great concern to the White House,” and that President Obama is now receiving briefings on the issue on a regular basis. Gibbs added, “I would tell people it’s certainly not a time to panic […] The government is taking all the steps it needs to and must do to take the precautions to deal with whatever size and scope we may be facing.”
The WHO is taking the outbreak very seriously, calling it a “public health emergency of international concern” that has a “pandemic potential.” The WHO’s emergency council met on Saturday for the first time since its creation. If the committee decides that the swine flu outbreak is an international public health emergency, WHO could recommend travel warnings and restrictions and possible border closures.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that swine flu symptoms include a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, coughing, sore throat, lack of appetite, runny nose, breathing problems and fatigue. However, not all symptoms are present in each case of swine flu.