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Swine flu swamps more areas, health emergency declared

The swine flu is the influenza caused by any strain of the influenza virus endemic in pigs; these pigs can harbor influenza viruses adapted to humans

Los Angeles, April 29: The Swine flu has literally inundated the United States of America. The worst part is that flu continues to spread from one state to the other and experts opine that the worst is yet to come. The number of flu cases has swelled, prompting officials to announce a public health emergency.

In Mexico, from where the flu reportedly spread, more than 1,600 people are likely to be affected. According to the data compiled by the Associated Press, the swine flu can be blamed for 152 deaths in Mexico alone. The flu has not proved fatal in California as yet although 20 cases have been reported from the state. Meanwhile, the flu was detected for the first time in Canada on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Dr. Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's science and public health program, said of the escalation in flu cases, “I do expect more cases and expect more states to be affected.” He cautioned, “I think we need to be prepared that even if it starts to look a little better, it may get a little worse.”

The swine flu is caused by any strain of the influenza virus endemic in swine (pigs), termed as swine influenza virus (SIV). SIV can mutate into a form that can easily spread from human to human. Characteristic symptoms in humans include chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.

Dr. Richard Besser, the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the current swine flu is in a ‘pre-pandemic’ period. He opined that now the aim is to alleviate the harm.

He advised the masses to bring into practice the common-sense preventive actions like washing hands, covering coughs with an arm or shoulder and staying at home to keep away from the virus.

With the threat of an epidemic looming large, the federal government is leaving no stone unturned to combat the virus. Several schools were closed Tuesday in New York City, San Antonio and suburban Sacramento, where a teenager was tested positive for the disease.

The custom authorities have stepped up the health screenings vigil at the U.S.-Mexico border crossings with an aim to block the spread of swine flu. Travelers are being urged to cancel trips.