Swine Flu outbreaks have been reported in New York, Texas, California, Kansas and Ohio. In Mexico, the health minister has requested (voluntarily at this point) suspension of public events (movie theaters, church gatherings, bars).

In addition Russian has suspended meat imports from Mexico and the US over swine flu concerns. Here are the headline items.

Mexico Seeks to Contain Swine Flu, Economic Impact

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, operating under emergency powers declared yesterday, stopped short today of shutting down work places in the Mexico City area, the most populated and productive of the country, amid a deadly swine flu outbreak to ease the economic impact.

Calderon is holding powers to order quarantines and suspend public events. So far, the government has closed schools in Mexico City and the states of Mexico and San Luis Potosi and has canceled government activities that draw crowds.

Health Minister Jose Cordoba requested, but didn’t order, the closure of bars, movie theaters and churches to help contain the outbreak.

At least 20 deaths are confirmed in Mexico and 1,324 patients are hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, Cordova said yesterday at a Mexico City news conference. The strain is a variant of the H1N1 swine influenza that has infected 11 people in Kansas, California and Texas and may have sickened at least eight students in New York.

Museums, theaters and other venues in the Mexico City area, where large crowds gather, have shut down voluntarily and concerts and other events have been canceled to help contain the disease. Two professional soccer games will be played today in different Mexico City stadiums without any fans.

“We request the collaboration to reduce the sources of contact by suspending events in closed or open spaces of any type,” Cordoba said.

The emergency decree lets Calderon regulate transportation, send inspectors into any home or building, order quarantines and assign any task to all federal, state and local authorities as well as health professionals to combat the disease.

Swine Flu Confirmed in US

The Center for Disease Control says Swine Flu Confirmed in 20 People in the U.S.

Twenty people in the U.S. have confirmed cases of swine flu linked to the virus that has spread in Mexico, and the acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said officials expect more severe infections to begin showing up.

Richard Besser, the CDC’s acting director, said the virus has been identified in New York, Texas, California, Kansas and Ohio. So far, the cases have been relatively mild and only one person has reported being hospitalized.

“It looks to be the same virus that is causing the situation in Mexico,” Besser said at a briefing at the White House. Scientists are trying to determine why the virus, normally transmitted among pigs, has been more severe in Mexico, where as many as 81 deaths have been linked to the infection.

There is no vaccine for the virus, he said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said stockpiles of drugs to treat patients will be made available. The government is issuing a health emergency declaration to free up more resources to combat the spread of the virus.

Swine Flu Outbreak at Private New York School

Swine Flu Virus Outbreak Confirmed at New York School

Health officials have confirmed an outbreak at a New York private school of swine flu that may have come from Mexico where the virus is suspected of killing 81 people.

The virus may have been brought back by students who were vacationing in Mexico during a recent spring break, though that couldn’t be confirmed, Bloomberg said. The virus has sickened more than 1,000 in Mexico. There have been 20 confirmed cases in five U.S. states requiring one hospitalization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. New York health officials have been urging people not to go to the hospital unless they are severely ill.

About 200 students at St. Francis were ill last week with flu-like symptoms, the New York Department for Public Health and Mental Hygiene said yesterday.

Public Health Emergency Declared

In the US, the Department of Homeland Security Declares Public Health Emergency.

A public health emergency has been declared in the U.S. to free up resources to deal with the swine flu, Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said at a White House briefing today.

No official travel advisories have been issued by the U.S. State Department in relation to the disease, Napolitano said. A follow-on flu outbreak is possible in several months, she said.

Russia Suspends Meat Imports

Russia Suspends Mexican, Some U.S. Meat Imports on Swine Flu

Russia suspended imports of all meat from Mexico and the U.S. states of Texas, California and Kansas shipped after April 21 on concern about the spread of swine flu, the country’s veterinary watchdog said.

The suspension also affects pork from Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, Salvador, and the U.S. states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida, the watchdog added in a statement on its Web site today.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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