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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Pigs catch swine flu from man

Mon May 4th, 2009

The worldwide toll of swine flu virus cases was approaching 1,000 last night - but deaths remained confined to central America.

Countries were increasingly reporting cases contracted outside of Mexico - and in Canada one traveller was thought to have passed the virus on to a herd of pigs.

In Canada some 85 human cases were confirmed as well as the pig outbreak in Alberta.

The World Health Organisation's official total in the afternoon was 898, including 506 in Mexico and 19 deaths. The USA had confirmed some 226 cases and one death.

There were also single cases reported in Korea and China, where 300 guests were quarantined in a hotel in Hong Kong.

In the UK, the Health Protection Agency said it now had 18 cases confirmed. A school in London was set to be closed this week to prevent further spread of the virus.

An HPA spokesman said: "At this stage, with only a small number of cases of human to human transmission in the UK, this does not yet represent sustained human to human transmission. The cases of human to human transmission in the UK all had contact with individuals with illness and travel history to an affected area.

"The risk to the general public remains very low."

British health secretary Alan Johnson was quoted yesterday as saying "something much more serious" could follow the current outbreak.

* Hospitals should prepare "morale boosters" for emergency staff in the event of a major flu epidemic, experts have warned.

An analysis of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong warns that front-line staff may need high levels of support.

During the Hong Kong outbreak staff stayed in hospitals and did not return home to prevent any risk to their families.

Ten-point guidance, based on the Chinese experience, has been published on-line by the Emergency Medicine Journal.

Dr Susan Robinson, of Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK, writes: "It will not be possible to admit all patients with flu during a pandemic outbreak. Difficult decisions will need to be made."

Meanwhile the Royal College of Physicians, of London, UK, suggested using a blue and yellow card system to identify urgent cases in out-patients.

The RCP rushed out its pandemic flu guidance ahead of schedule.

Em. Med J 2009; doi 10.1136/emj.2008.061499

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

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