Health Officials: Swine Flu Strain Found In San Diego Same As Mexico - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Health Officials: Swine Flu Strain Found In San Diego Same As Mexico

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A strain of swine flu identified in San Diego and Imperial counties is the same one that has killed dozens of people in Mexico, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention said today.

"From everything we know to date, the virus appears to be the same," Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC, said in a conference call with reporters. "So far, the genetic elements we have looked at are the same."

Four people in San Diego County have come down with swine flu, along with two in Imperial County and two in Texas.

The most recent confirmed case involved a child in the San Diego area, who has recovered, Besser said.

A swine flu outbreak in Mexico has killed at least 60 people and sickened nearly 1,000. The outbreak has forced health officials in Mexico City to close schools and keep residents home from work in an effort to stem the spread of the disease.

Besser said the CDC is working with the World Health Organization to respond "as rapidly as possible to this threat."

"We do not know whether this swine flu virus or some other influenza virus will lead to the next pandemic," he said. "However, scientists around the world continue to monitor the virus and take its threat seriously."

"This is something we are worried about and we are treating seriously," Besser said.

The initial steps toward the development of a vaccine have already begun, he said.

One of the San Diego residents infected with swine flu had traveled to Mexico, but it was unclear if that is where the person became infected, Besser said.

The CDC has issued an outbreak notice for Mexico, but has not called for any domestic or international travel restrictions.

Besser said the CDC has sent teams to California and Texas to help local health officials identify people who are potentially infected with swine flu. A team will also be sent to Mexico.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said Thursday that health officials expect to identify more cases of swine flu locally due to stepped-up surveillance.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease found in pigs that sometimes infects humans, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. Human cases of swine flu usually occur in people who have been in close proximity to infected pigs, but that did not appear to be the case in the latest infections, health officials said.

Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, coughing and a lack of appetite, according to the HHSA.

Besser said people can avoid spreading the disease by covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands frequently.

Residents should see their doctor if they have fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches chills and fatigue, he said.

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