Swine Flu Outbreak in Mexico Raises Fear of Global Epidemic

An outbreak of swine flu, originating in central Mexico, has raised fears of a global epidemic. Keiji Fukuda, a World Health Organization official, says that the form of flu that originated in Mexico is a genetic mixture of viruses that have been seen in pigs, birds and people prior to this outbreak. It’s been dubbed "swine flu" because the overall genetic structure of the virus is of the type that has normally affected pigs. Symptoms usually develop about 1 to 4 days after exposure and may include coughing, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and sometimes nausea or vomiting, sore throat or a runny nose.

President Felipe Calderon canceled a trip to handle the burgeoning crisis in Mexico, where at least 60 people have died from the deadly new flu virus. At least 943 people are suspected to be infected with the flu and Mexican officials have responded by shutting down schools, museums, libraries and theaters in an attempt to contain the spread. This outbreak is the latest in a series of blows to Mexican tourism, which was already hurting due to the violence that has gripped the country over the last 2 years while Calderon has waged a war on the drug cartels and narcotraffickers.

Since the outbreak a couple of days ago, the disease has spread outside of the confines of the country's borders. Cases have been reported in the border states of Texas and California, but the illness has spread even further north—a catholic school in New York City was recently closed down temporarily after 8 high schoolers came down with the virus following a class trip to Mexico. 

"We are very, very concerned," said Thomas Abraham, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from
human to human," he continued, "It's all hands on deck at the moment."

But the CDC said that Americans shouldn't worry about traveling to Mexico. You can stay safe by taking common sense precautions such as frequent hand washing and avoiding people who are coughing or
sneezing.