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    CDC: Swine Flu Outbreak "Serious"

    8 Cases Confirmed in the U.S.; Global Health Experts on Alert
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    April 25, 2009 -- Swine flu has killed at least 20 people in Mexico and sickened at least eight people in the U.S., and the CDC expects more U.S. cases as the hunt for swine flu intensifies.

    The eight confirmed U.S. cases are located in San Antonio, Texas, and California's San Diego County and Imperial County. Others will probably be found elsewhere, notes Anne Schuchat, MD, the CDC's interim deputy director for science and public health program.

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    "We are likely to find it in many other places," Schuchat said at a press conference today. "We don't think containment [of the virus] is feasible."

    CNN is reporting that two cases of swine flu in Kansas are expected to be announced by the Kansas Department of Health. And New York City officials are reporting eight "probable" cases of swine flu in students at a private school in New York City. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will send samples taken from the students to the CDC for confirmation.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has asked health departments worldwide to watch out for the virus, which is a mix of swine, human, and bird influenza viruses.

    In a news conference today, WHO officials called the flu outbreak "serious," but the WHO has not yet declared swine flu to be a pandemic.

    Schuchat says that so far, the U.S. cases have been milder than those seen in Mexico, where at least 59 people have died of pneumonia, according to the CDC. The WHO notes that 20 of those deaths are confirmed to be from swine flu; health officials are investigating the other Mexican deaths.

    The CDC is already taking the first steps toward making a vaccine against the virus; that process takes months, Schuchat says. The CDC has also sent staff to Mexico as part of a global team responding to the outbreak.

    Here are the CDC's tips for limiting your risk of catching the swine flu virus:

    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.

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