KUWAIT, May 23 (Reuters) – U.S. soldiers have been confirmed as the first cases in Kuwait with the new H1N1 flu, the state news agency KUNA reported on Saturday, citing a government official.The swine flu virus was detected in an unspecified number of soldiers transiting through Kuwait. Some remained quarantined in their military base in Kuwait for treatment and some had left the country, KUNA said.
These are the first confirmed cases in the Gulf — the world’s largest oil exporting region. Kuwait is a main logistics base for the U.S. army to support its troops in Iraq.
“The American soldiers, whose names or ages were not disclosed, arrived in Kuwait on transit, they were examined and given appropriate medication,” Health Undersecretary Ibrahim al-Abdulhadi told KUNA.
More details will be released at a news conference on Sunday, it said.
Week 19, ending May 16, 2009
Madrid – Eleven new cases of swine flu have been diagnosed at a Spanish military school, bringing the country’s total to 126, health authorities have said.
The discovery of the virus at the school, about 20 miles (30km) outside Madrid, prompted a further 57 soldiers to be put under observation.
The latest confirmed cases were said to be mild, with nine people in hospital.
In Spain, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega said: “There is no reason for alarm.
Authorities were investigating how the virus could have been picked up by the soldiers.
Of the national total, all but 31 involved people who had been to Mexico recently.
The Heath Ministry said schoolchildren visited the military academy this week, even after suspicion of an outbreak had emerged.
Spain has the highest number of infections in Europe.
ALL three cases of swine flu in Cambridgeshire have been confirmed as ‘sporadic’, making them the first in the UK to have no links to existing cases.
NHS Cambridgeshire announced on Friday (May 21) that all three of the county’s swine flu patients had no links to existing cases or travelled to countries affected by the virus.
It means these cases are ‘sporadic’ cases of transmission in the community – the first in the UK.
Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire, said: “The case of swine flu that was being investigated in Cambridgeshire has been confirmed as a ‘sporadic’ case of transmission of the infection in the community. This means that all three cases of swine flu in Cambridgeshire are confirmed as ‘sporadic’.
“All three patients are now recovered. Some transmission in the community has been expected and this does not represent widespread incidence in the community or sustained transmission that would lead to a change in the way we respond to swine flu. In most cases the swine flu infection has been mild and the advice to the public and health care staff remains unchanged.
“NHS Cambridgeshire has robust plans in place to tackle Swine flu and is closely monitoring the situation with the Health Protection Agency and the Strategic Health Authority.”
The county’s first case of swine flu was confirmed two weeks ago, involving a woman from Huntingdonshire. Details of the exact locations or sexes of the other two cases have not been released.
Flu panic boils over in South America as cases rise
Chile reported 15 new cases of swine flu on Friday, hours after Argentine protesters stoned a bus with Chileans suspected of carrying the virus and police fired rubber bullets to disperse the mob.
“The Institute of Public Health has confirmed 44 cases of A(H1N1) flu in Chile,” officials said, upping the total by 15.
Chile has the largest number of recorded cases in South America.
On Thursday, police in the Argentine border state of Mendoza fired into the air to disperse a crowd that had attacked a bus with tourists whom they suspected were carrying the disease.
Residents of the town of Godoy Cruz were trying to stop the 43 passengers, one of whom had flu-like symptoms, from reaching a local hospital where they were required to appear. That prompted the Chilean interior minister, Patricio Rosende, to call for calm: “There is no reason whatever for the kind of hysteria that has been seen in some areas over the presence of a person who is possibly affected,” he said.
Five new cases of swine flu were confirmed yesterday, taking the UK total to 117, health officials said. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the new cases were two adults from London, two adults from the South-east and a child from the West Midlands.
Two of the cases were returning travellers, one is linked to a previously confirmed case and the source of infection remains under investigation in the other two cases, the HPA said. Earlier, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said swine flu was a “sneaky virus” which was likely to keep spreading to new parts of the world and within countries already affected.
(Snip) Dr Chan also said she was going along with many of the WHO’s 193 member states which had urged caution in declaring a pandemic. “Even the best-laid plans need to be fluid and flexible when a new virus emerges and starts changing the rules,” she said. The WHO’s alert currently stands at phase 5, meaning a pandemic is “imminent”.
Bowing to pressure, the World Health Organization announced Friday that it would rewrite its rules for alerting the world to new diseases, meaning the swine flu circling the globe will probably never be declared a full-fledged pandemic.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the deputy director general making the W.H.O. announcement, said that he could not predict exactly what the new rules would be but that criteria would include a “substantial risk of harm to people,” not just the geographic spread of a relatively benign virus.
The six-point system was created in 2005 when the threat was H5N1 avian flu, which has a fatality rate of about 60 percent. But the system does not take into account a virus’s lethality, and in the current outbreak, some countries have complained that the warning system created panic and pressure for border closings, even though the strain was less deadly.
Asked if the W.H.O. could damage its credibility by changing the rules in mid-outbreak, Dr. Fukuda said: “There’s nothing like reality for telling you whether something is working or not. Rigidly adhering to something that is not working would not be very helpful.”
Speaking in Geneva, Dr. Fukuda added, “We’re trying to walk a fine line between not raising panic and not being complacent.”
google translation from French
First cases of swine flu in Russia
MOSCOW, May 22, 2009 (AFP) – Friday 22 May 2009 – 16h33 – A first case of swine influenza A (H1N1) has been registered in Russia on a Russian citizen returning from the United States, announced the chief Russian sanitary , Gennady Onichtchenko, quoted Friday by the Interfax agency.
Genes included in the new swine flu have been circulating undetected in pigs for at least a decade, according to researchers who have sequenced the genomes of more than 50 samples of the virus.
Researchers led by Rebecca Garten of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied samples of the flu isolated in Mexico and the United States.
The findings suggest that in the future pig populations will need to be closely monitored for emerging influenza viruses, according to the report, released Friday by the journal Science.
First detected last month, the H1N1 flu has sickened more than 11,000 people in 41 countries and killed 85, according to the World Health Organization, whose figures often trail those of individual countries. Mexico has reported 75 swine flu deaths, the United States 10, and there has been one death each in Canada and Costa Rica.
Garten’s team said the exact combination of the virus’ eight gene segments has not previously been reported among swine or human influenza viruses.
They said all of the segments originated in bird hosts and then began circulating in pigs at various times in history, from 1918 through 1998. Infected pigs might not have shown signs of illness, but gave the viruses an opportunity to mix with other viruses and create more dangerous strains.
Fri May 22, 2009 9:08am EDT
GENEVA (Reuters) – Countries should be ready for more serious H1N1 flu infections and more deaths from the newly discovered virus, World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan said on Friday.
The highly-contagious strain must be closely monitored in the southern hemisphere, where the winter season is beginning, as it could mix with seasonal influenza and mutate in “unpredictable ways,” she said.
“In cases where the H1N1 virus is widespread and circulating within the general community, countries must expect to see more cases of severe and fatal infections,” she said. “We do not at present expect this to be a sudden and dramatic jump in severe illness and deaths.”
According to the WHO’s latest tally, the strain has infected more than 11,000 people in 42 countries, and killed 86 of them.
Chan said in her closing remarks to the WHO’s week-long annual congress that countries in the developing world needed to act quickly to improve their monitoring for the virus, which has caused mainly mild symptoms in most patients so far but could cause more serious effects as it spreads.
“This is a subtle, sneaky virus,” she said. “We have clues, many clues, but very few firm conclusions.”
She also stressed there is little real difference between the WHO’s current pandemic alert level of 5 and the highest of 6 in terms of preparedness measures taken, and said she would consult experts before opting to raise it again.