Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Costa Rica holds at eight confirmed cases of Swine Flu

A doctor, wearing protective clothing and mask as a precaution against swine flu, stands outside an trauma area set up to treat cases of suspected swine flu at a hospital in San Jose, Monday, May 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)(Inside Costa Rica) - Although the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the number of infections of the AH1N1 flu has risen in several countries, including Spain, Britain, Panama, Guatemala and Colombia, the number of confirmed cases in Costa Rica has held at 8.

Costa Rican health officials say that since the outbreak on April 24 there have been more than 800 reports of suspected cases, of which the majority have been discarded. Last Saturday, Costa Rica reported the first death resulting from the flu, after a 53 year old infected man could not fight off complications from pneumonia and diabetes.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has raised the flu alert level to 5 out of 6 as a result of its spread beyond the disease epicenter Mexico, signaling that a pandemic is imminent.

She is looking for evidence the hybrid strain is spreading in sustained way in communities outside of the Americas before raising that alert to 6 and declaring a pandemic is under way.

According to the latest WHO count, Spain has 98 confirmed cases and Britain has 68.

While most of those infections have been deemed "imported" cases as a result of people traveling to Mexico, or being in close contact with those who had, WHO experts are watching both countries closely for signs the virus has taken hold in Europe.

North America continues to have the largest number of confirmed H1N1 infections worldwide. Mexico has 2,059 cases confirmed in WHO labs, the United States has 3,009 and Canada has 358.

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