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    Obama says schools with infections may have to close

    Hurriyet Daily News with wires
    29.04.2009 - 13:58 | Son Güncelleme:

    ISTANBUL - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that school authorities with confirmed cases of swine flu should consider closing, after it was reported that a 23-month-old child in Texas died from the flu. (UPDATED)

    Obama said Wednesday morning that Americans "should know" the government is doing all that it can to contain the emerging health menace, AP reported.


    Obama also said he wanted to convey "my thoughts and prayers" to the family of a 23-month-old child in Texas who died from the flu.


    He said that closures in some instances may be necessary, especially in cases of confirmed infections. "That schools with confirmed cases ... should consider closing if the situation becomes more serious," he was quoted as saying by AP.


    The baby in Texas died from the new H1N1 swine flu, the first U.S. death from the virus, a CDC official said Wednesday.


    It is the first death from swine flu reported outside Mexico, the country hardest hit by the influenza outbreak. The official gave no other details on the case. U.S. officials have confirmed 65 cases of swine flu, most of them mild but with five hospitalizations in California and Texas.
    "I can confirm very sad news coming out of Texas – that a child has died from the H1N1 virus," Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN.
    Besser had predicted that as they searched for cases, CDC experts would find severe infections and deaths in the United States, even though most of the patients had mild illness.
    "As a parent and a pediatrician my heart goes out to the family," Besser said.
    "Flu is a very serious infection and each virus is unique so it's hard to know what we're going to be seeing, but given what we've seen in Mexico we have expected that we would see more severe infections and we would see deaths."
    Mexico had previously had reported the only deaths – 159, based on symptoms and initial tests, with seven deaths so far confirmed by additional laboratory analysis at the World Health Organization.
    Influenza regularly kills people around the world, with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 deaths from the seasonal virus every year. Every year at least a few perfectly healthy children die from seasonal influenza in the United States.
    WHO and CDC officials have been trying to assess just how serious the new H1N1 swine influenza strain is. It has been found globally, with cases across North America, Europe and New Zealand.
    "We have about 100 cases outside Mexico, and now you have one death. That is very significant," said Lo Wing Lok, an infectious disease expert in Hong Kong, Reuters reported.
    Besser said the news should not change anyone's behavior. "We're not changing our recommendations. The recommendations we've been giving are the right ones to reduce the risk of you or your family members getting flu," Besser said.
    The CDC recommends frequent hand-washing to avoid infection with the new flu virus. It also recommends that people who are sick stay home, cover sneezes and coughs, and avoid unnecessary travel to Mexico until more is known.


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