Killer pig flu threat to UK: BA crew member rushed to hospital as 81 die in outbreak
By Mail On Sunday Reporter
Last updated at 2:31 AM on 26th April 2009
- Pig flu virus may have killed 81 people
- 1,300 others thought to have been infected
- BA crew member on Mexico flight rushed to hospital
- Source of the outbreak is not yet known
- Travellers with symptoms warned to contact GP
- Tamiflu and Relenza both effective against the illness
Fears are growing that a deadly human strain of 'swine flu' that has claimed 81 lives in Mexico has arrived in Britain.
A British Airways cabin crew member yesterday complained of 'flu-like symptoms' midway through a flight to Heathrow from Mexico City, where the virus first surfaced.
Last night the unnamed man, understood to be a British national, was in isolation in a West London hospital and was being treated by staff trained in infectious disease controls.
Earlier, panic spread throughout Mexico, where those who died were reported to be the first victims of a pandemic with the potential to kill millions.
Experts said the virus posed the biggest threat of a pandemic since bird flu began to spread in 2003.
That has killed 256 people in 15 countries.
A group of nuns walk wearing surgical masks in the Zocalo plaza
Pigs at a farm on the outskirts of Mexico City yesterday where officials are taking measures to contain the influenza
As well as the 81 dead – mostly aged between 25 and 45 – more than 1,300 patients were being treated in Mexico for respiratory infections that showed signs of the new strain.
The same virus type has appeared in Texas, California, Kansas and New York. A total of 19 people have been infected, eight of whom have recovered.
Last night it was reported that President Obama had met one of the possible victims earlier this month.
He was greeted on his visit to Mexico City on April 16 by archaeologist Felipe Solis, who died the following day from flu-like symptoms.
Tests on Saturday night also showed that eight students who fell ill at a school in New York with flu-like symptoms on Thursday and Friday also had the virus.
A US government source said ‘hundreds’ of Americans had been in contact with infected people and that it was now urgent that this group be tested.
There is no vaccine for the new strain, but patients who become ill with it can be treated with anti-viral drugs.
People wear masks as they pray in Mexico City's Cathedral
Mexican mounted policemen patrol in Mexico City's historic Zocalo square
It is expected that all travel to and from Mexico will be halted and that any Britons in California, New York and Kansas will be instructed to get full medical check-ups before flying back to Europe.
Mexico’s health secretary, Jose Angel Cordova, went on national television yesterday to issue a stark warning. He said: ‘This is highly contagious. It can be fatal and it has pandemic properties.’
He advised people to stay in their homes if possible, keep away from public places and avoid physical contact.
Neighbouring California has made a 'rigorous and thorough' response to the new strain, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said.
The BA attendant was taken from BA flight 242 to Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow and was said to be responding well to treatment.
Medics from the Heathrow Port Health Authority were waiting at the airport when the aircraft landed. They boarded the jumbo jet and kept passengers waiting on board while they examined the steward.
Yesterday afternoon, BA provided 30 face masks for crew on the next flight to Mexico from Heathrow. Sources said they had bought all the masks on sale at Boots in the airport.
Danger: Women wear surgical masks as they exit the subwayEnlarge
Mexico City canceled hundreds of public concerts, sporting events and meetings on Saturday as authorities tried to contain the outbreak
A cabin crew source said: ‘BA bought 30 masks from Boots because there are concerns about the spread of this flu in Mexico. There is no Mexico flight from Heathrow on Sunday, and we are hoping that by the time Monday’s flight leaves London, BA will be able to find more masks so that our crew can be protected if needs be. The same happened a while ago during the SARS outbreak.’
A Northwick Park Hospital spokesman said: ‘The patient was admitted directly to a side room and the hospital is scrupulously following infection control procedures to ensure there is no risk to any other individual in the hospital.’
The Health Protection Agency said: ‘We are aware of a patient admitted to a London hospital with reported travel history to Mexico. As a precautionary measure the patient is being tested for a range of respiratory and other illnesses in line with UK health guidance. At present there have been no confirmed cases of human swine flu anywhere in Europe.’
World Health Organisation director-general Margaret Chan said the outbreak in Mexico involves ‘an animal strain of the H1N1 virus’.
Those who died in Mexico – where the first case was confirmed on April 13 – had not been in contact with animals. Mr Cordova said: ‘This probably started with pigs but has now mutated to pass between humans.’
An organ grinder, wearing surgical masks as a precaution against infection
A police officer, wearing a surgical mask as a precaution against infection, directs traffic in downtown Mexico City
The age of the victims last night heightened fears that the virus could be the beginning of a pandemic – most victims of the so-called Spanish flu that wiped out about 50million people after the First World War were men and women in their prime.
Medical experts said last night that while starting like a normal flu, victims’ temperatures soon shot to 102F, with muscle aches so painful they were almost paralysing. The flu is also characterised by extremely painful headaches and eventually diarrhoea and vomiting.
The Mexican government began a mass immunisation programme, but abandoned it on Friday after it was acknowledged that the vaccines offered no protection against the new killer virus.
In efforts to stop the disease spreading, the authorities ordered all schools and universities across Mexico City to close until further notice.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured at NASA's Ames Research Center yesterday, said the state is coordinating with federal and international health experts on its plan to fight the flu
Museums and theatres also shut, rock concerts were cancelled. Health workers have been posted at transport hubs in an attempt to keep anyone showing symptoms off the transport system.
‘The worst thing is that you don’t know who has this virus,’ said Gisela Hernandez, a 34-year-old housewife. ‘Maybe your neighbour has got it. Maybe the guy in the corner shop or the restaurant has it.’
It is thought people can carry the virus for up to seven days before symptoms show. Michael Osterholm, a pandemic flu expert at the University of Minnesota, said new cases were probably already incubating across he world.
Tamiflu, an antiviral drug used against bird flu, is said to be effective against the new strain.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease, normally confined to pigs. Only a few human cases have been reported in the past, mostly among farm workers, however, flu viruses can mutate into deadly new forms.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Piggy Flu !
Well i read about the flu in the newspaper this morning. Then i search it online and i found this article. Just becareful! I love you all. ;]