Swine flu infects North America

Canada is the third country to confirm cases of Swine flu, a strain that is now infecting the whole of North America. The human, swine, avian mixture strain has killed at least 68 and sickened more than 1000 in Mexico, with Mexico City as the epicenter of the outbreak.

California, Texas, and Kansas have confirmed cases, and a high school in New York City may be the next locale to be added to the list.

The U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared a swine flu emergency, freeing up resources to prevent further spread at the local level. No deaths have been reported in the U.S., but anyone suspecting to have the infection should see a doctor to receive treatment, preventing severe disease, and so the numbers can be properly recorded and tracked to head off a pandemic. The more the health authorities know about the spread, the better equipped they will be to stop it.

The strain is currently responding to Tamiflu treatment, and vaccine production is being evaluated. The symptoms are the usual for the flu - coughing, fever, fatigue, runny nose - in addition to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.

According to press reports, students in New Zealand who recently returned from Mexico may add a fourth country to the infected list, and other countries are reporting that testing is under way to determine if they too have cases of the potentially pandemic strain.

Prevention methods include using a kleenex or your sleeve when sneezing, washing your hands frequently with warm water and mild soap (antibacterial products do not affect viruses and are not advised), staying away from public places when feeling ill, drinking plenty of fluids when starting to feel ill, and seeking medical attention.

Find out more on Twitter @CDCEmergency

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