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Swine flu travels the globe

Tues April 28th, 2009

Two people with confirmed swine flu were being treated in Scotland last night and a third in Spain as the new virus reached Europe.

The British Health Protection Agency said patients were responding well to anti-flu drugs and most cases were "mild".

This was in contrast with Mexico where it is feared more than 100 people have died from the virus, identified as an influenza A(H1N1) virus. Visitors to the country are being issued with face-masks.

Travellers are being urged to seek medical help if they show any symptoms of flu.

The World Health Organisation yesterday raised its alert level, stepping up measures to contain the outbreak.

The HPA said the arrival of infected patients in Europe was "not unexpected" as infected travellers from Mexico had also surfaced as far afield as Canada and New Zealand.

A spokesman said: "If you have recently visited one of the countries or areas where human cases of influenza have been identified, it is important for you to monitor your health closely for seven days after your visit to the affected area.

"There is no need for you to isolate yourself from other people as long as you remain well."

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said the organisation would not seek to contain the virus and close borders as it had already been spread around the world. Instead the aim is to reduce the risk of infection and serious illness.

She said: "The change to a higher phase of pandemic alert indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased, but not that a pandemic is inevitable."

Fears of a major global flu epidemic had been triggered by novel strains of bird flu from south-east Asia and this has led to the world's nations having detailed plans to combat the outbreak.

English chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: "If a new pandemic does start as a result of this outbreak in Mexico and the United States, we can't make it go away, but what we can do through our plans, particularly our stockpiles of anti-virals, is mitigate its effect."

Discuss this report here

Tags: Flu & Viruses | World Health | North America | Travel | UK News | Europe | Australia

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