A roundup of the latest swine flu developments 4/29

Associated Press - April 29, 2009 11:43 AM ET

CDC: US swine flu cases jump to 91 in 10 states
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. now has 91 confirmed cases of the new swine flu in 10 states.
Dr. Richard Besser, the acting chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says thus far only 5 of those cases needed hospitalization, including a Mexican toddler who became the first death recorded in the U.S., in Texas.
The increase is not surprising. For days, CDC officials have said they expected to confirm more cases - and more severe illnesses - as they intensively hunt down this new virus.
Until now the government had known of outbreaks in just five states. But the new information shows cases in five more: Massachusetts, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Indiana.
Obama: Schools with infections may have to close
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the U.S. is doing all it can to contain a deadly outbreak of swine flu.
He also conveys his thoughts and prayers to the family of a 23-month-old child who died of the flu in Texas. It's the first death in the current outbreak outside Mexico.
The president says U.S. officials are "continuously monitoring" the situation. He's also telling schools with confirmed cases of swine flu to consider closing -- and telling parents to be ready in case that happens. He says families should have a child care plan in place, because sending children from schools to day care centers in infected areas would not be "a good solution."
Obama is also urging people to take their own precautions, including washing hands and staying home if they're sick.
WHO calls emergency meeting; eyes pandemic level
GENEVA (AP) - The World Health Organization is calling a third emergency meeting of its flu experts in response to a spike in swine flu cases.
The panel meeting Wednesday will discuss the current alert level - at phase 4, two levels below the threshold for a full pandemic outbreak.
In response to the panel's earlier advice, WHO declared the outbreak an international public health emergency and raised its pandemic alert level, meaning the risk of a global outbreak has jumped.
WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said the agency's director-general Margaret Chan "has seen a jump in cases and she wants to have that evaluated by the outside experts."
He says that does not automatically mean there will be a change in the pandemic alert level. This comes in addition to a WHO scientific review meeting, also on Wednesday.
Mexico City mayor: 1 more death, toll stabilizing
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico City's mayor says the swine flu outbreak seems to be stabilizing, with one more death since he spoke last. If the death toll keeps tapering off, he says he will consider easing the citywide shutdown.
Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has closed down virtually all aspects of public life at the epicenter of the epidemic, at tremendous cost to the economy. But he says human life must be protected.
He says that if the tendency continues, he will consult world health authorities before lowering the city's maximum alert level and easing up on the closure of public events and places.
Mexico says swine flu is now suspected in 159 deaths, and nearly 2,500 illnesses. It's not clear if the latest death is included in the overall numbers.
HOUSTON (AP) - Texas' health officials say a Mexican toddler who is the first confirmed U.S. death from swine flu arrived in Texas from Mexico on April 4 and developed flu symptoms four days later.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said Wednesday the Mexico City boy had underlying health problems when he traveled to Brownsville Texas to visit relatives. He was admitted to a Houston hospital a few days after developing a fever and other flu symptoms and died on Monday night.
The boy was about 2 years old. Houston officials said he was 23 months old, but state officials said he was 22 months old and could not immediately explain the discrepancy.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the death earlier Wednesday.
Napolitano retracts 'passive surveillance' term
WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is asserting that the description she initially gave of the border swine-flu monitoring effort no longer applies.
Appearing Wednesday before a Senate panel, Napolitano said that "passive surveillance" is "not an accurate picture of what is going on" at U.S. entry points. She had used that term Tuesday morning to describe the nature of the monitoring for illness.
On Wednesday, Napolitano said that U.S. officials are "actively" questioning visitors at the border, asking questions about "whether they are ill, their travel history and the like."
She also discounted turning to thermal meters to gauge whether people are carrying a fever, and Napolitano also said she does not believe the facts of the current situation would merit closing the borders.
Napolitano asserts strong federal flu response
WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says federal officials recognize that dealing with the spread of the swine flu virus will be "a marathon, not a sprint."
Appearing before a Senate committee, Napolitano on Wednesday cited an all-out federal response. She also said that in certain respects, state and local authorities represent the "first responder" role in the widening health emergency.
Napolitano told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that "there is a lot we don't yet know about this outbreak. But at the same time, she said "we have been preparing as if we are facing a true pandemic, even though we don't know the ultimate scope of what will occur."
She said closing U.S. borders at this time "has not been merited by the facts."
First probable case of swine flu reported in Minn.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota health officials say they hope to know by the end of the day whether a case of swine flu has turned up in central Minnesota.
Two schools in Cold Spring are closed after what the officials call a probable case of swine flu turned up in an unidentified person at Rocori Middle School. The sample was flown on a state plane to the Centers for Disease Control for a definitive test.
Health Commissioner Sanne (SAHN'-nay) Magnan says the person is expected to make a full recovery and didn't require hospitalization.
Rocori Middle School and a Catholic elementary school nearby that shares some classes, St. Boniface, were shut down as a precaution. Gov. Tim Pawlenty says the schools could stay closed as long as seven days if swine flu is confirmed.
State officials urged people to be calm and take care of themselves by getting enough rest, eating right and frequently washing hands.
Illinois reporting probable swine flu cases, one school closed
CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is reporting probable cases of swine flu.
State public health officials say more than one case is being sent to federal authorities for confirmation.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has conducted tests on patient specimens showing swine flu is probable.
State public health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the final determination on whether Illinois' cases matches the swine flu outbreak in Mexico.
She says one case is located at a school on Chicago's north side. The school is closed today.
Commandant says Calif. Marine may have swine flu
WASHINGTON (AP) - The commandant of the Marine Corps says 1 of his troops may have swine flu and that 39 in all are being confined until tests come back.
General James Conway says an initial test indicated one Marine in California may have the illness. Officials are awaiting another test on that Marine.
In the meantime, he and his roommate are quarantined and confined to quarters at the Twenty-Nine Palms base in California. Conway says the roommate is not showing any symptoms.
Another 37 troops that had been in contact with the sick Marine are restricted from going to the mess hall and troop formations until officials have a clear idea of whether the first Marine has the illness.
Conway revealed the development during a Pentagon press conference Wednesday.
Germany confirms 3 swine flu cases, Egypt slaughtering all pigs
BERLIN (AP) - Germany's national disease control center says it has confirmed three swine flu cases - making it the third country in Europe where the disease has surfaced.
Britain and Spain already have already confirmed cases of the disease, which was first detected in Mexico and has now been found in several other countries worldwide.
The Egyptian government says it has begun slaughtering all pigs in the country as a precautionary measure against the possible spread of swine flu. The Health Ministry says the slaughter of the country's 300,000 pigs will begin immediately.
The ministry has stated several times that there are no cases swine flu in the country, however neighboring Israel has reported two.
Cuba is suspending all regular and charter flights from Mexico to the island but still allowing airlines to return travelers to Mexico. A statement published in state newspapers says the restrictions will remain until "the causes that have prompted these decisions cease."
There have been no reported cases of swine flu in Cuba but the government has ordered medical personnel and civil defense authorities to be on alert.

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