SWINE FLU BREAKING NEWS: Case counts, antiviral distribution, Mexican situation, Biden's clarification, new countries affected, viral name change, White House health scare

Apr 30, 2009

The World Health Organization's (WHO's) global count of confirmed swine flu cases stands at 257 cases in 11 countries today. The United States has 109 cases and 1 death; Mexico has 97 cases and 7 deaths. [WHO update 6]

The WHO has begun distributing part of its stockpile of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to Mexico, Dr. Keiji Fukuda said at a news briefing today. Roche donated 5 million treatment courses of the antriviral to the WHO in 2005 and 2006.

For 5 days starting tomorrow, the Mexican government is suspending nonessential services, advising noncritical businesses to close, and urging people to stay home, the Associated Press (AP) reported today.

Vice President Joe Biden said today on NBC's "Today" show that he would tell his family to avoid air and subway travel to reduce their exposure to the swine flu virus, according to Reuters. A Biden spokeswoman clarified his remarks afterward, saying his message is the same as the federal government's: avoid nonessential travel to Mexico and avoid travel when ill.

The Netherlands confirmed its first swine flu case, in a 3-year-old who had traveled to Mexico and was said to be doing well, according to Radio Netherlands.

Switzerland reported its first case, involving a 19-year-old student who was mistakenly released from a hospital and then hastily readmitted, according to an AP report.

Peru also reported its first swine flu case, in an Argentine woman who lives in California and had recently been in Mexico, according to a Reuters report. She was on an airline flight from Panama that was diverted to Lima because of her illness, the report said.

To battle the misconception that people can get the swine flu virus from pigs, the WHO said it is dropping the term "swine flu virus" and will call it "H1N1 influenza A," according to an AP report. The story said Egypt began slaughtering its 300,000 pigs yesterday because of concern about the virus.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) strongly advised against the culling of pigs in the face of the swine flu epidemic, saying there is no evidence of the virus in pigs or of humans acquiring it directly from pigs. [OIE statement]

At the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) PlanFirst webcast today, Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, said federal guidance advises individual schools to close for a week when a student hasa suspected or confirmed swine flu infection. She said some entire districts are closing, which runs counter to suggested protocol.

Federal officials are not recommending that Americans stockpile food and water in response to the swine flu outbreak, Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, said during the agency's PlanFirst webcast today. She urged the public to take measures to limit disease transmission such as hand washing and covering coughs, and she advised parents to make contingency plans in the event of school closures.

Within several days, state health departments will have the ability to identify the new H1N1 strain in their own labs instead of sending suspect isolates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acting CDC Director Dr. Richard Besser said Thursday in a news briefing. Test versions of the new diagnostic tool are being tried out by the New York and California health departments and will be pushed out to the remaining states if the tests are satisfactory.

In its updated swine flu case count today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first confirmed cases in South Carolina (10), pushing the number of affected states to 11, including Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and Texas.

The White House issued a health advisory to its staff today after three family members of a Department of Energy employee who traveled with the Obama delegation to Mexico recently tested positive for probable swine flu, Politico.com reported. The staff member had a fever during the trip, has recovered, and has not tested positive for the virus. Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, said the employee never came within 6 feet of Obama and that no one else who accompanied the group on the trip has shown any signs of illness.

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