"An outbreak of flu deaths in Mexico in recent days was caused by swine flu, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said Friday.
"It is a virus that mutated from pigs and then at some point was transmitted to humans," he told the Televisa network.
The virus has sickened 800 and killed at least 20, according to the Mexican government. Other reports put the death toll closer to 60.
The never-before-seen virus is comprised of bird, swine and human influenza strains, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mexico City has suspended classes at schools and universities to contain what could be a new strain of influenza.
Cordova says private and public schools in this metropolis of 20 million have been ordered to remain closed Friday. The measure could be extended in coming days.
Cordova says the flu is a "new, different strain that can attack anyone." He says authorities are investigating whether it is related to an influenza strain reported in Texas and California.
U.S. public health officials said on Thursday that seven people had been diagnosed with a new kind of swine flu in California and Texas.
Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said officials believe it can spread human-to-human, which is unusual for a swine flu virus.
Because of intensive searching, it's likely health officials will find additional cases, said Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
CDC officials detected a virus with a unique combination of gene segments that have not been seen in people or pigs before. The bug contains human virus, avian virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.
Health officials have seen mixes of bird, pig and human virus before, but never such an intercontinental combination with more than one pig virus in the mix.
Scientists keep a close eye on flu viruses that emerge from pigs. The animals are considered particularly susceptible to both avian and human viruses and a likely place where the kind of genetic reassortment can take place that might lead to a new form of pandemic flu, said Dr. John Treanor, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The virus may be something completely new, or it may have been around for a while but was only detected now because of improved lab testing and disease surveillance, CDC officials said. The virus was first detected in two children in southern California — a 10-year-old boy in San Diego County and a 9-year-old girl in neighboring Imperial County.
The cases were detected under unusual circumstances. One was seen at a Navy clinic that participates in a specialized disease detection network, and the other was caught through a specialized surveillance system set up in border communities, CDC officials said.
On Thursday, investigators said they had discovered five more cases. That includes a father and his teenage daughter in San Diego County, a 41-year-old woman in Imperial County (the only person hospitalized), and two 16-year-old boys who are friends and live in Guadalupe County, Texas, near San Antonio.
The Texas cases are especially puzzling. One of the California cases — the 10-year-old boy — traveled to Texas early this month, but that was to Dallas, about 270 miles northeast of San Antonio. He did not travel to the San Antonio area, Schuchat said.
The two 16-year-olds had not traveled recently, Texas health officials said.
The swine flu's symptoms are like those of the regular flu, mostly involving fever, cough and sore throat, though some of the seven also experienced vomiting and diarrhea.
U.S. health officials are consulting with Mexican and Canadian health officials, and the CDC is beginning to receive samples from Mexico for testing, a CDC spokesman said. The ethnicity of the seven confirmed cases was not disclosed."
HERE ARE MY RECOMMENDED ACTION STEPS:
- Do not freak, tempting though it may be.
- Download and print out this free document on good home treatment of influenza. Read it carefully and make sure you understand everything in it. You may wish to make copies to give to friends and family.
- Go to the store tomorrow morning, or tonight, and get the items listed therein for a Flu Treatment Kit (I have also listed these below).
- Do what you can to stock up on nonperishable food and water. Even if you're not up to several months storage, something is better than nothing. See my previous posts "Food Storage Shopping List" and "Preparedness Focus: Pandemics" for a list of items to purchase.
Grocery store items
- Table salt: 1 lb (for making Oral Rehydration Solution, gargle and nasal wash)
- Table sugar: 10 lbs (for making Oral Rehydration Solution)
- Baking soda: 6 oz (for making Oral Rehydration Solution and nasal wash)
- Household bleach, unscented 2 gal (for purifying water and cleaning contaminated items)
- Caffeine containing tea, bags or dry loose: 1 lb (for treatment of respiratory symptoms)
- Two 8 oz plastic baby bottles with rubber nipples (for administering Oral Rehydration Solution to severely ill)
- Two 16 oz plastic squeeze bottles with swivel nozzle s(for administering Oral Rehydration Solution to the ill)
- Two Kitchen measuring cups with 500 cc (two cup) capacity (for measuring lots of things)
- One set of kitchen measuring spoons 1/8 tsp up to 1 tbsp (for making oral solutions and dosing)
- Fifty Soda Straws (for administering fluids easier)
- One composition-style notebook (for keeping a medical record on the patient)
- Teakettle (for steam therapy)
- Petroleum jelly 4oz (for lubrication of tubes, suppositories, and skin treatment and protection)
- Cocoa butter, pure 2 oz (for making suppositories and skin treatment and protection)
- An accurate bathroom scale (for weighing)
- Two Electronic thermometers (to measure temperature)
- Automatic blood pressure monitor (to measure blood pressure)
- Humidifier (for increasing the relative humidity of the air breathed by the patient)
- Pill cutter (to make it easier to reduce the dose of medications if desired)
- 1 box of Latex gloves # 100, (to help reduce contamination and spread of the virus and bacteria)
- Ibuprofen 200mg (Motrin®) # 100 tablets (for treatment of flu symptoms)
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) 25mg capsules # 100 (for treatment of flu symptoms)
- Robitussin DM Cough Syrup® or its generic equivalent (12 oz) (for treatment of cough)
- Acetaminophen 500mg (Tylenol®) # 100 tablets (for treatment of flu symptoms)
- Loperamide 2mg # 100 tables (for diarrhea and abdominal cramps)
- Meclizine 25mg # 100 tablets (for nausea and vomiting)
Hardware Store Items
- N-95 masks #20 (2boxes) (to reduce diseases spread to and from the patient)
- 50 gallon sturdy plastic garbage container with top (used to store clean water for drinking)