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The World Health Organization: Swine Flu


Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 The World Health Organization: Swine Flu

It has been confirmed that Governments around the globe are desperately hurrying to contain the new swine virus in view of the recent outbreaks in Mexico, the US and Canada according to the BBC (27 04 09).

Moreover, The World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s health agency, has said the swine flu virus could be capable of mutating into a more dangerous strain. It is understood that there are at the UN’s health agency, has said the swine flu virus could be capable of mutating into a more dangerous strain. Stocks of anti-viral medicines are being readied and travellers are being screened at some airports for symptoms.

Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said suspected swine flu cases in his country had risen to 1,614 including 103 deaths. Of those, 20 deaths are confirmed to have been caused by the new virus. The US, where 20 people are confirmed to have caught the virus, has declared a public health emergency. There are also confirmed cases in Canada, and investigations are being carried out on suspected cases in Spain, Israel and New Zealand.

In most cases outside Mexico, people have been only mildly ill and have made a full recovery. Officials are saying that they need more accurate data in relation to the virus Advice being offered at this stage is to be vigilant for seasonally unusual flu or pneumonia-like symptoms among their populations - particularly among young healthy adults, a characteristic of past pandemics.

In essence, only a handful of the Mexican cases have so far been laboratory-confirmed as swine flu, while in the US confirmed cases had only mild symptoms. Health experts want to know why some people become so seriously ill, while others just develop a cold, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes reports from Switzerland. Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general in charge of health security, said all countries were “looking at the situation seriously” but that a true picture of the extent of the virus was still emerging.

The WHO’s assistant director-general in charge of health security, Dr Keiji Fukuda, has stated that all Countries were “looking at the situation seriously” but that a true picture of the extent of the virus was still emerging. Furthermore, H1N1 has been identified as the same strain that causes seasonal flu outbreaks in humans but the newly detected version contains genetic material from versions of flu which usually affect pigs and birds. It is spread mainly through coughs and sneezes. Officials said most of those killed so far in Mexico were young adults - rather than more vulnerable children and the elderly.

In the US, eight cases have been confirmed among New York students, seven in California, two in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio. The Canadian cases were recorded at opposite ends of the country: two in British Columbia in the west, and four in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia. In New Zealand, two school groups that recently visited Mexico have reported illnesses - ten students from one school tested positive for Influenza A, making it “likely” they are infected with swine flu, and three in the other school were being tested. France and Spain have both reported cases of people becoming ill after returning from Mexico and are carrying out tests. In Israel, medics are testing a 26-year-old man who has been taken to hospital with flu-like symptoms after returning from a trip to Mexico. Two people in Queensland, Australia, are being tested after developing flu-like symptoms on returning from Mexico. The Brazilian authorities say one man was taken into hospital as a precaution after he became ill following a visit to Mexico.

In addition, the World Bank is providing Mexico with more than $200m in loans to help it deal with the outbreak.

Fear of the virus is expected to lead to many tourists cancelling their holidays and Mexican exports are already beginning to be affected.

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