Swine flu closes more NYC schools, spreads in Asia

May 16, 2009
An Indian hospital attendant, left, comes out from a swine flu emergency ward set up at a government Chest hospital in Hyderabad, India, Saturday, May 16, 2009. India confirmed its first case of swine flu Saturday in a man who arrived in the country on a flight from New York. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A)

(AP) -- The swine flu virus continues spreading among children in the city, closing more schools, and the disease reached further into Asia among travelers returning from the United States.

The says more than 4,700 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 46 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia.

Five people have died in the , all with underlying ailments, and an assistant school principal in New York remained hospitalized in critical condition Saturday.

The assistant principal, Mitchell Wiener, worked at one of the six schools that have been closed for a week because of the latest rash of suspected cases.

"Despite the significant disruption this causes, the Health Department has recommended closing these schools to reduce the spread of influenza," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said Friday. The commissioner said there are "unusually high and increasing levels" of flulike illnesses at the schools.

Health officials couldn't immediately say whether the outbreaks at the schools are connected.

Wiener's wife, Bonnie, told reporters he had been feverish and sick for nearly a week before his intermediate school shut down. Wiener's son, Adam, said his father began "hallucinating and wasn't coherent" on Wednesday before he was rushed to a hospital.

Internationally, Malaysia, India and Turkey have reported their first cases, all involving people who had traveled from the United States. They are in addition to the 36 other countries where the says more than 8,000 cases of the disease have been confirmed.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan on Saturday confirmed its first case of swine flu caught within the country, showing that the effort to block the flu at the island nation's borders had failed.

The government ordered schools closed in parts of the port city of Kobe, where the Ministry of Health said a male high school student who had not recently traveled abroad tested positive for the virus. Two other students at the same school were suspected of having the virus.

The latest confirmed case is Japan's fifth overall. The first four - three high school students and a teacher - had recently returned from a trip to Canada.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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not rated yet May 16, 2009
"the effort to block the flu at the island nation's borders had failed", "had recently returned from a school trip to Canada".

There is something of a no-brainer here. If you desire to keep your borders closed against a disease, either do not allow your nationals to return from out of the country, or keep them in quarantine for the incubation period 50%.

Yes, it costs, but it does keep the disease out, which they failed to do here.
not rated yet May 17, 2009
There is too much traffic to use quarantine measures against. Too costly.

The genie is out of the bottle anyway - the disease will come tomorrow even if it could be prevented today. Most of the current measures are PR exercises to show that the authorities are in control - at the very best they will buy some time, allowing rich nations to build up their supplies of anti-viral drugs.

The only effective way to deal with diseases like this is to prevent them from originating in the first place. This implies global improvement in animal husbandry.

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