The World Health Organization is warning countries to be on thelookout of symptoms of swine influenza in people – especially those who havetraveled from countries with reported cases.

Alan Johnson MP UK Health Secretary Alan Johnson has confirmed that Britain is on “constant alert” after the previously unknown strain of swine ‘flu spread from Mexico to America.

Cases have already been reported as far afield as New Zealand, France, Spain, Israel and Canada. Six cases were confirmed in Canada, 10 reported in New Zealand, fourreported in France, six reported in Spain, one reported in Israel andtwo reported in Britain (two travellers were admitted to a hospital inScotland after complaining of flu-like symptoms on return from holidayin Mexico).

As of yesterday (April 26), the United States Government has reported 20 laboratory confirmed human cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 (eight in New York, seven in California, two in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio).

All 20 cases have had mild influenza-Like Illness with only one requiring brief hospitalization. No deaths have been reported. All 20 viruses have the same genetic pattern based on preliminary testing. The virus is being described as a new subtype of A/H1N1 not previously detected in swine or humans.

Swine influenza Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said suspected swine flu cases in his country had risen to 1,614, but of the 103 deaths so far, only 18 are confirmed to have been caused by the new virus. Investigation is continuing to clarify the spread and severity of the disease in Mexico. Suspect clinical cases have been reported in 19 of the country’s 32 states.

WHO and the Global Alert and Response Network (GOARN) are sending experts to Mexico to work with health authorities. WHO and its partners are actively investigating reports of suspect cases in other Member States as they occur, and are supporting field epidemiology activities, laboratory diagnosis and clinical management.

WHO is currently not recommending any travel or trade restrictions.

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