Apr 28

World Health Officials Rush to Contain Swine Flu


As the outbreak of swine flu claimed more lives in Mexico City, world health officials race to prevent the flu strain from reaching other borders.  The US prepared for the worst as news of contamination have already reached their shores.  The swine flue was reported to have spread already to at least 4 countries, though it unusually did not result in deaths similar to Mexico.

To prevent widespread outbreak, the US is preparing as if it will already become a pandemic.  This will ensure that extreme measures are taken to contain the new flu strain.  Meanwhile, other countries have become strict in allowing visitors in their country by placing those with symptoms in strict quarantine.

In Mexico, there have been 152 deaths reported due to swine flu.  Though the country is considered ground zero of the outbreak, Mexican officials claim the origin of the outbreak is still undetermined.  They even believe it could have come from the US.

The World Health Organization raised the alert level to Phase 4, meaning there is sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus causing outbreaks in at least one country.   It was the first time on Monday that it has ever been raised above Phase 3.  Phase 6 would mean a full-blown pandemic with outbreaks in at least 2 regions of the world.

Strangely, 50 cases were reported in the US but none were fatal.  Worldwide there were 79 confirmed cases, including six in Canada, one in Spain and two in Scotland. Thirteen are suspected in New Zealand, and one is suspected in both France and Israel.

Swine flu symptoms include a fever of more than 100, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.  The new flu strain is a combination of pig, bird and human viruses that humans may have no natural immunity to.  Nevertheless, Mexico reported that the number of new cases has declined the past 3 days.  To prevent mass contagion, Mexico canceled school nationwide until May 6 and is currently considering shutdown of public transportation.

Most residents of Mexico City wore blue surgical masks, despite reports that it offers little protection.  Many victims are in their 30s and 40s in Mexico while no deaths outside the country due to the flu were ever reported.

WHO officials claim that it could take 4 to 6 months before the first batch of vaccines are available.

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