Canada confirms 4 swine flu cases among students

Apr 26, 2009
Quarantine officers monitor travelers with a thermographic device at an arrival gate at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, April 26, 2009. Asian health authorities were on alert Sunday, with some checking passengers and pork products from Mexico, as the World Health Organization declared the deadly swine flu outbreak a public health emergency of "pandemic potential." (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

(AP) -- Canada became the third country to confirm human cases of swine flu Sunday as global health officials considered whether to raise the global pandemic alert level.

Nations from New Zealand to France also reported suspected cases and some warned citizens against travel to North America while others planned quarantines, tightened rules on pork imports and tested airline passengers for fevers.

Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said the east coast Canadian province had confirmed four "very mild" cases of swine flu in students ranging in age from 12 to 17 or 18. All are recovering, he said.

"It was acquired in Mexico, brought home and spread," Strang said.

The news follows the World Health Organization's decision Saturday to declare the outbreak first detected in Mexico and the United States a "public health emergency of international concern."

A senior World Health Organization official said the agency's emergency committee will meet for a second time Tuesday to examine the extent to which the virus has spread before deciding whether to increase the pandemic alert beyond phase 3.

The same strain of the A/H1N1 swine flu virus has been detected in several locations in Mexico and the United States, and it appears to be spreading directly from human to human, said Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general in charge of health security.

Mexico's health minister says the disease has killed up to 86 people and likely sickened up to 1,400 since April 13. U.S. officials say the virus has been found in New York, California, Texas, Kansas and Ohio, but so far no fatalities have been reported.

Governments including China, Russia and Taiwan began planning to put anyone with symptoms of the deadly virus under quarantine

Others were increasing their screening of pigs and pork imports from the Americas or banning them outright despite health officials' reassurances that it was safe to eat thoroughly cooked pork.

Some nations issued travel warnings for Mexico and the United States.

WHO's emergency committee is still trying to determine exactly how the virus has spread, Fukuda said

"Right now we have cases occurring in a couple of different countries and in multiple locations," he said. "But we also know that in the modern world that cases can simply move around from single locations and not really become established."

Raising the pandemic alert phase could entail issuing specific recommendations to countries on how to halt the disease. So far, WHO has only urged governments to step up their surveillance of suspicious outbreaks.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called the outbreak a public health emergency of "pandemic potential" because the virus can pass from human to human.

Her agency was considering whether to issue nonbinding recommendations on travel and trade restrictions, and even border closures. It is up to governments to decide whether to follow the advice.

"Countries are encouraged to do anything that they feel would be a precautionary measure," WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi said. "All countries need to enhance their monitoring."

New Zealand said that 10 students who took a school trip to Mexico "likely" had swine flu. Israel said a man who had recently visited Mexico had been hospitalized while authorities try to determine whether he had the disease. French Health Ministry officials said four possible cases of swine flu in two regions are currently under investigation. All recently returned from Mexico.

Spain's Health Ministry said three people who just returned from Mexico were under observation in hospitals in the northern Basque region, in southeastern Albacete and the Mediterranean port city of Valencia.

Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors who came back from flu-affected areas with fevers would be quarantined. China said anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms within two weeks of arrival from an affected area had to report to authorities. A Russian health agency said any passenger from North America running a fever would be quarantined until the cause of the fever is determined.

Tokyo's Narita airport installed a device to test the temperatures of passengers arriving from Mexico.

Indonesia increased surveillance at all entry points for travelers with flu-like symptoms - using devices at airports that were put in place years ago to monitor for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and bird flu. It said it was ready to quarantine suspected victims if necessary.

Hong Kong and South Korea warned against travel to the Mexican capital and three affected provinces. Italy, Poland and Venezuela also advised their citizens to postpone travel to affected areas of Mexico and the United States.

Symptoms of the flu-like illness include a fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), body aches, coughing, a sore throat, respiratory congestion and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

The virus is usually contracted through direct contact with pigs, but Joseph Domenech, chief of animal health service at U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency in Rome, said all indications were that the virus is being spread through human-to-human transmission.

No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer.

Russia banned the import of meat products from Mexico, California, Texas and Kansas. South Korea said it would increase the number of its influenza virus checks on pork products from Mexico and the U.S.

----

On the Net:

WHO swine flu page: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html

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

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User comments : 9

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LuckyBrandon
3 / 5 (5) Apr 26, 2009
OK banning and monitoring the influx of pork products is probably nothing but a waste of time. The virus is being spread from human to human, nad not inside of a DEAD PIG'S MEAT/BODY. They should be watching maybe for live pigs being sent across, but I doubt many live pigs get shipped around the globe like that....
ryuuguu
5 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2009
Unfortunately we really don't know if it is possible to catch it from under cooked pork or from handling un cooked pork. We know it can be caught from live swine and human contact, but that des not mean that is the only method of transfer.
LuckyBrandon
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2009
that is a valid point ryuuquu
Mayday
2 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2009
It is astonishing and more than a bit puzzling(disturbing?) how little real, helpful information is available in the news media. Like what are the early symtoms?(And I mean beyond normal flu symptoms) What should you do to protect yourself? How effective are those silly paper masks? What are dangerous practices? What are the most effective treatments? How fast might this spread? Are healthy people safe? Are gyms, pools, subways, grocery stores, restaurants, airplanes safe? Can a person be a non-symptomatic carrier? Can other species be carriers? How long does the virus live outside the host body? Is it airborne or surface-based? What is the best anti-viral wash or sanitizer? How long does it incubate in a host before the host shows symtoms? Can it spread during host incubation? How far can it travel on the air? What temperature kills it?



These are off the top of my head... but there is nothing. This is the simple stuff, guys. Where are the reporters? Where is the journalism? Where is the Great-Big-Government-Help-Machine? You want to bail something out? Bail out our nation's good health! And right now!
LuckyBrandon
2 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2009
Mayday-
believe you me, I am at least as concerned as you, and probably much more so, having a son with cancer in Texas, where cases have been reported...and he happens to be sick as I type....

I think the problem is here mainly, is that this is a new strain that they no little to nothing about. So most of your questions, most unfortunately, do not currently have any answers as of yet.
From what is reported (and granted, there is definitely more knowledge than has been reported on it), they simply don't know what will help it right now. They make no guarantee any current flu medicine or vaccine will help whatsoever...

As to your comment of where is the government help machine. Seriously? Do you really think this exists? Because it doesn't. Anyone who really thinks the government gives a rats ass WHATSOEVER about them is living in denial.
In all honesty though, if this does make for a true epidemic worldwide, there is one true bright side...
That is, most of the idiots in the world will be wiped out by it, and the global IQ average will raise a few points as a result.
Let's just hope this shit gets Bush, and gets him real good, so he gets his just desserts and can only enjoy the billions he raped from the US citizens as a whole for a mere few minutes while he gasps his last breath.

That is not meant to be an argument starter folks, nor to move this thread to a plitical discussion.

We can only hope....

But on that note, I have to say, this truly has me worried seeing this virus spread from Mexico, northward, and then to New Zealand so far within a matter of days. This can not be a good thing.....
Sean_W
2 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2009
It is called "swine" flue because it has genes from two swine flu viruses (as well as other viruses) but has it even been detected in pigs? I thought I had heard no. Any cooked or canned meat would be virus free.

The risk of death is not the only problem a flu pandemic can cause. A real pandemic can cause mass absenteeism, overwhelming of health care systems, the collapse of tourism and other industries and other complications. This may not be an event on that scale and now that we know more about dehydration and such, we may be in a far better position than we were in 1918 but non-industrialized countries are not as prepared.
SmartK8
not rated yet Apr 27, 2009
Now for the rest: Beijing, Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro..
bmcghie
5 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2009
Interestingly, they are also using the H1N1 designation. This is the same designation as the deadly 1918 Spanish Flu had. I wonder how long it will be before somebody panics about that. I mean, this strain is using similar proteins, but not identical, regardless what the designation is. It's purely a matter of nomenclature, but I don't think the public is likely to stop the panicked rush over that.

With regards to Mayday's post: If this was a new type of virus, then I could see them placing more emphasis on the items you mentioned. Since it is only a new strain, NOT a novel virus, you can very ably defend against this virus just as you would normal Influenza. Wash your hands before and after eating, before and after using the washroom, and avoid close contact with infected people. Nearly all influenza viruses can be transmitted via aerosol (ie: sneezing/coughing) and infect the upper respiratory tract, so enclosed spaces with recycled air like planes and elevators are not a good idea if you are deathly afraid of this bug.

Finally, please don't everybody flip out like they nearly did for SARS. What a joke... 774 dead worldwide. Hardly worth the panic.
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2009
Sean W-this variation, from what I've read, has consistently been said to have 4 strains of swine flu, 1 of bird, and 1 of human.....if weve got articles saying 2 and 4, that shows how confused the "machine" really is :)

bmcghie-my understanding is that currently, this new strain of swine flu has a fatality rate of 7% vs. a fatlity rate of 2.5% for the 1918 epidemic. If those figures stay the same, and the does turn into the next major outbreak, then we will significantly more dead than the 40 million from the 1918 outbreak.

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