Swine flu cases spread in U.S.

NEW YORK — At least two cases of human swine influenza have been confirmed in Kansas and one more in California, bringing the U.S. total to 11. At least eight students at a New York City high school probably have swine flu, but health officials said Saturday that they don’t know whether they have the same strain of the virus that has killed scores of people in Mexico.

Kansas health officials said they had confirmed swine flu in a married couple after the husband visited Mexico. The couple, who live in Dickinson County in central Kansas, were not hospitalized, and the state described their illnesses as mild.

The man traveled to Mexico last week for a conference and became ill after he returned home. His wife became ill later. Their doctor suspected swine flu, but it wasn’t confirmed until flu specimens were flown to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

At least nine swine flu cases have been reported in California and Texas. The new California case, the seventh there, was a 35-year-old Imperial County woman who was hospitalized but recovered. The woman, whose illness began in early April, had no known contact with the other cases.

The 11 U.S. swine flu victims range in age from 9 to over 50. All recovered or are recovering; at least two were hospitalized.

At least one airport in the United States — Sacramento International Airport in California — is taking extra precautions, an airport official said Saturday.

Workers have been advised to be more vigilant and use gloves and other protective wear, officials said.

They also have been familiarizing themselves with an action plan in the event health authorities declare a pandemic.

The plan includes making available breathing masks for people on flights on which passengers may be infected and separating infected individuals from the rest of the airport population.

At McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, it was business as usual, a spokeswoman said. Three Mexican airlines — AreoMexico, Aviacsa and Mexicana — provide direct flights from Mexico to Las Vegas.

U.S. health officials have been urging travelers to take precautions and wash their hands frequently, but they have stopped short of telling Americans to avoid Mexico.

New York health officials said more than 100 students at the private St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens had come down with a fever, sore throat and other aches and pains in the past few days. Some of their relatives also have been ill.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said nose and throat swabs had confirmed that eight students had a non-human strain of influenza type A, indicating probable cases of swine flu, but the exact subtypes were unknown. Samples were sent to the CDC for more testing.

The symptoms in the New York cases have all been mild, Frieden said.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A flu viruses, the CDC’s Web site says. Human cases of swine flu are uncommon but can happen in people who are around pigs and can be spread from person to person.

Symptoms of the flu include a fever of more than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, a sore throat, respiratory congestion and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

Las Vegas Review-Journal staff writer Jim Haug contributed to this report, as did McClatchy Newspapers.

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