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WHO Warns of Possible Pandemic as Mexico Seeks to Contain Swine Flu
Date:4/25/2009

anization and other international partners to assure early detection and warning and to respond as rapidly as possible to this threat," Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC, said during a Friday afternoon press briefing.

Besser said the CDC issued an outbreak notice for travelers to central Mexico and Mexico City, alerting people to the flu outbreak. "At this time there are no recommendations for U.S. travelers to change, restrict or alter their travel plans to Texas, California or Mexico," he said.

While Mexico's flu season is usually over by now, health officials noticed a sizeable uptick in flu cases in recent weeks. The World Health Organization reported about 800 cases of flu-like symptoms in Mexico in recent weeks, most of them among healthy young adults, with 57 deaths in Mexico City and three in central Mexico, The New York Times reported Friday.

That could be worrisome. Seasonal flus usually strike hardest at infants and the elderly, but pandemic flus -- such as the 1918-19 Spanish flu, which killed an estimated 20 million to 40 million people worldwide -- often strike young, healthy people, the newspaper reported.

Schuchat said Thursday that the virus in the United States is influenza A N1H1 mixed with swine influenza viruses. The virus contains genetic pieces from four different flu viruses -- North American swine influenza, North American avian influenza, human influenza viruses and swine influenza viruses found in Asia and Europe, she said.

"That particular genetic combination of swine influenza viruses has not been recognized before in the U.S. or elsewhere," Schuchat said.

The viruses found in the United States are resistant to two antiviral medications -- amantadine and rimantadine -- but are susceptible to the antivirals oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), Schuchat said.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza. Swine flu
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