4.25.2009

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.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/25/world/americas/25mexico.html?_r=1&hpw

MEXICO CITY — 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.
“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.
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