A Queens school where seven students have come down with flu-like symptoms is open today, as health officials probe whether the PS 177 students have been sickened by the swine flu.
At nearby St. Francis Prep, there have been 28 confirmed and 17 probable cases of the flu, which is being traced to Mexico, where several St. Francis students visited recently.
Though St. Francis officials decided over the weekend to close school Monday and Tuesday, there was concern at nearby PS 4 because some St. Francis students are involved in Big Brother Big Sister programs there. But PS 4 has not reported any health concern so far this week.
Reports surfaced Monday night that the swine flu had spread into New Jersey and even affected an Ernst & Young employee who works in the company's Times Square headquarters office. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, is the only agency that can officially diagnose the swine flu, and New York health officials were unable to confirm whether that employee was tested with the CDC.
Illness Goes Intercontinental
The swine flu epidemic crossed new borders Tuesday with the first cases confirmed in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, as world health officials said they suspect American patients may have transmitted the virus to others in the U.S.
Most people confirmed with the new swine flu were infected in Mexico, where the number of deaths blamed on the virus has surpassed 150.
But confirmation that people had become infected outside Mexico would indicate that the disease was spreading beyond travelers returning from the country, World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva.
Hartl said the source of some infections in the United States, Canada and Britain was unclear.
Hartl said WHO was waiting for U.S. authorities to announce that a number of students at a New York high school have passed the virus on to one another after their return from a spring vacation in Mexico. ``I think we might have one other instance in the U.S.,'' he said.
Pressed by reporters to elaborate, he declined, saying it was up to U.S. authorities to provide further information.
Travelers React to Health Threat
At Newark Airport, a passenger returning from Mexico City said Monday she was surprised that no effort was made to screen arriving passengers for swine flu symptoms.
Lourdes Pizano, of Montgomery Township, said no mention was made of the swine-flu outbreak except when U.S. Customs officials at Newark handed her a copy of an advisory from the CDC on possible swine flu symptoms.
And Luis Mendez said at JFK Airport that New Yorkers shouldn't fear traveling to his native Mexico.
"They just need to maybe wear masks and take considerations," he said.
Swine Flu Can Be Treated
Cough, fever, chills and a sore throat are among the symptoms of swine flu. If you think you might be infected, it is treatable if it is detected within 48 hours of contraction.
Tamiflu and Relenza work on the virus, but it's still recommended to call your doctor.
For answers to other swine flu questions, click here.