2 cases confirmed in Kansas, eight likely in New York City
NEW YORK - Two cases of the human swine influenza have been confirmed in Kansas and one more in California, bringing the US total to 11. At least eight students at a New York City high school probably have swine flu also, but health officials said yesterday they do not know whether they have the same strain of the virus that has killed people in Mexico.
Yesterday, Governor David Paterson directed the state Department of Health to mobilize its infectious diseases, epidemiology, and disaster preparedness workers to monitor and respond to possible cases of the flu. He said 1,500 treatment courses of the antiviral Tamiflu had been sent to New York City.
Kansas health officials said yesterday they had confirmed swine flu in a married couple living in the central part of the state after the husband visited Mexico. The couple, who live in Dickinson County, were not hospitalized, and the state described their illnesses as mild.
Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, the state health officer, said, "Fortunately, the man and woman understand the gravity of the situation and are very willing to isolate themselves."
The man traveled to Mexico last week for a professional conference and became ill after returning home. His wife became ill later. Their doctor suspected swine flu, but it was not confirmed until flu specimens were flown to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
At least nine swine flu cases have been reported in California and Texas. The new California case, the seventh there, was a 35-year-old Imperial County woman who was hospitalized but recovered. The woman, whose illness began this month, had no known contact with the other cases.
The 11 US swine flu victims range in age from 9 to over 50. All recovered or are recovering; at least two were hospitalized.
Health officials are worried because people appear to have no immunity to the virus, a combination of bird, swine and human influenzas. Also, the virus presents itself like other swine flus, but none of the US cases appears to involve direct contact with pigs, said Eberhart-Phillips, who called the strain "a completely novel virus."
"It appears to be able to transmit easily between humans," Eberhart-Phillips said. "It's something that could potentially become very big, and we're only seeing, potentially, the very beginning of a widespread outbreak."
New York health officials said more than 100 students at the private St. Francis Preparatory School, in Queens, had come down with a fever, sore throat, and other aches and pains in the past few days. Some of their relatives also have been ill.
New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said nose and throat swabs had confirmed that eight students had a nonhuman strain of influenza type A, indicating probable cases of swine flu, but the exact subtypes were still unknown.
Samples had been sent to the CDC for more testing. Results were expected today.
Elaine Caporaso's 18-year-old son Eddie, a senior, had a fever and cough and went to a hospital where a screening center had been set up.
"I don't know if there is an incubation period, if I am contaminated," Caporaso told the Daily News. "I don't want my family to get sick, and I don't want to get anybody else sick."