WASHINGTON — Confirming at least 40 cases of swine flu in the U.S., the Obama administration said Monday it was responding aggressively as if the outbreak would spread into a full pandemic. Officials urged Americans against most travel to Mexico as the virus that began there spread to the United States and beyond.
President Barack Obama urged calm, saying there was reason for concern but not yet "a cause for alarm.” Yet just in case, administration officials said that they were already waging a vigorous campaign of prevention, unsure of the outbreak’s severity or where it would show up next. U.S. customs officials began checking people entering U.S. territory. Millions of doses of flu-fighting medications from a federal stockpile were on their way to states, with priority given to the five already affected and to border states. Federal agencies were conferring with state and international governments. "We want to make sure that we have equipment where it needs to be, people where they need to be and, most important, information shared at all levels,” Janet Napolitano, head of the Homeland Security Department, told reporters. Her briefing came shortly before the World Health Organization raised the severity of its pandemic alert level to four from three on a six-point scale. Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that so far the disease in the United States seemed less severe than the outbreak in Mexico, where more than 1,600 cases had been reported and where the suspected death toll had climbed to 149. No deaths had been reported in the U.S.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 40 cases: 28 in New York, seven in California, two in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio. Richard Besser, the CDC’s acting director, said only one person has been hospitalized and all have recovered. Questions and Answers about the virus
What is swine flu? Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. Swine flu viruses can spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people. What are the signs and symptoms? The symptoms are similar to regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. How does swine flu spread? Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Are there medicines to treat swine flu? Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs work best if started within two days of symptoms. When should I seek emergency medical care? In children, warning signs include trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or not interacting.