Swine Flu Jolts World Into Action

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On Sunday, April 26th, the US government declared a public health emergency after confirming 20 cases of swine flu in the country. American officials stressed that the cases here were all mild, with only one person hospitalized. Here, Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), center, participates in a press briefing at the White House with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, left, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, center left, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, right.

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The World Health Organization confirmed 40 cases of swine flu in the United States by 11:15 am Monday, April 27, a jump of 20 from that morning. Here, Napolitano speaks at a press briefing.

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In Mexico, where the outbreak began, swine flu is believed to have killed 103 people as of this writing– 22 of the deaths of have been confirmed as swine flu, and 81 are suspected cases.

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1,614 people are sick in Mexico with swine flu symptoms.

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In Mexico, soldiers have handed out 6 million face masks to help stop the spread of the virus.

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From the CDC: “Probably the most well known [past example] is an outbreak of swine flu among soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976. The virus caused disease with x-ray evidence of pneumonia in at least 4 soldiers and 1 death; all of these patients had previously been healthy.”

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A man buys masks at a pharmacy in Mexico City.

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Journalists set up outside the St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York on Sunday, April 26. The CDC confirmed that eight students at the school have been infected with swine flu.

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Father Bill Sweetney, principal of St. Francis Preparatory School, addresses the media outside the school on Sunday, April 26. Cleaning crews spent Sunday scrubbing down St. Francis, which will be closed for days. Schools have also closed in Texas, California, South Carolina and Ohio.

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European Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou of Cyprus, adressed the media at the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, April 27. Vassiliou has urged Europeans to postpone nonessential travel to U.S. and Mexico. Germany’s largest tour operator suspends all charter flights to Mexico City.

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Airports screen travelers from Mexico and United States. China, Russia, Taiwan and Bolivia to quarantine anyone with symptoms. Pictured here: the Narita International Airport in Tokyo.

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Prime Minister Taro Aso addresses a Cabinet swine flu crisis meeting in Tokyo on Monday, April 27.

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Officials at the Japanese Ministry of Health and Labor field telephone calls from people seeking advice and information the swine flu.

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Staff members wear masks in their work at Hong Kong International Airport in on Monday, April 27.

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This swine flu involves a new type of strain – SIV-H1N1 – the origins of which so far remain unknown. Journalist David Kirby says that “one theory is that Asian and European strains traveled to Mexico in migratory birds or in people, then combined with North American strains in Mexican pig factory farms before jumping over to farm workers.”

Newscom/Zuma

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