Peru confirmed swine flu cases up to 25, “none are serious” Health Minister says

Although the number of confirmed swine flu cases in Peru has risen to 25, “none of them are serious,” said the Andean country’s Health Minister on Monday.

If the virus is detected early, it is very treatable, said Health Minister Oscar Ugarte Ubilluz in comments to Radio Nacional.

New confirmed cases include those of a 13-year old student and a 48-year old man that came in close contact with a group of students that recently traveled to the Dominican Republic, an 8-year old child from Arequipa and a 15-year old who recently traveled to Argentina.

Eight students were infected last week, after they traveled to the Dominican Republic as part of school-organized graduation trips. Nearly 20 private high schools located in Peru’s capital, Lima, temporarily suspended classes as a precaution to avoid the spreading of the virus.

All of the patients are currently under medical supervision, are quarantined in their homes and being treated with antiviral medication, reported Peru’s Health Ministry. And, the other 600 students that traveled to the Dominican Republic are being monitored.

Swine influenza, or “swine flu,” is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs, caused by one of several swine influenza A viruses. The virus is spread among pigs by aerosols, direct and indirect contact, and asymptomatic carrier pigs.

In humans, clinical symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza, but reported clinical presentation ranges broadly from asymptomatic infection to severe pneumonia resulting in death.

According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, “if a swine virus establishes efficient human-to human transmission, it can cause an influenza pandemic. The impact of a pandemic caused by such a virus is difficult to predict: it depends on virulence of the virus, existing immunity among people, cross protection by antibodies acquired from seasonal influenza infection and host factors.”

As of 25 May 2009, 46 countries have officially reported 12,515 cases of AH1N1 influenza infection, including 91 deaths.

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