Swine flu causes concern as it spreads into U.S.

From NBC12 News

RICHMOND, VA (NBC12) - The Virginia Department of Health is asking health care providers all across the state to be suspicious of any flu-like illness.

This, after a number of cases of swine flu that have been identified in California, Texas and Kansas.

What was first diagnosed in Mexico, is now hitting the U.S.

A new virus known as swine flu is spreading and health officials say at a pace they cannot contain yet.

There are confirmed and suspected cases in at least five states stretching from northeast to the southwest.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak in mexico and the U.S. a public health event of international concern.

"We can not say whether or not it will, indeed, cause a pandemic," said World Health Organization spokesperson Margaret Chan.

The new strain of flu is blamed for nearly 70 deaths in Mexico and has genetic elements of swine, human, and avian viruses that can spread through contact and travel.

Here in the U.S., the growing number of confirmed cases involve symptoms less severe.

"I want people to remember: all of the cases we've seen in the United States, so far, have been mild," said Center for Disease Control Representative Dr. Robert Besser. "All of the people who've been infected with this virus have recovered."

Health officials temporarily closed a high school near San Antonio, Texas, after two students were diagnosed with the virus.

In Queens, New York, 100 students at Saint Francis Prep School reported flu-like symptoms.

Health workers say preliminary lab test show a link.

"It is probably swine flu, and it is spreading from person to person," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden.

International health officials, who have been focused in recent years on bird flu preparedness and vaccines, admit they do not know enough about this newest virus.

And since it could take scientists months to produce a vaccine for this particular strain it is now a race against time to stop this mysterious flu before it spreads worldwide.

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