Its here now!
Nova Scotia and British Columbia have confirmed cases of swine flu, while new cases of the infection have been found in New York City, as health officials around the world test for a virus linked to a more serious outbreak in Mexico.
Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said Sunday the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg confirmed late Saturday that four young people in the province are recovering from "relatively mild" cases of the disease.
Strang said the four are between the ages of 12 and 18 and all attend a private school in the Windsor area of Nova Scotia.
They had been part of a group of students who were on a school trip to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in early April, Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, medical officer of health for Capital Health, told reporters
B.C.'s Centre for Disease Control on Sunday confirmed cases of swine flu involving two people from the province who recently returned from Mexico.
NYC students with swine flu after Mexico trip
In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed Sunday that eight students attending St. Frances Preparatory School in Queens have swine flu. Tests returning positive results were carried out by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.
More than 100 students at the private high school have been suffering from fever, sore throat and muscle ache since Thursday. Bloomberg stressed that their symptoms of influenza were "mild."
Some of the students had recently travelled to Mexico, the New York Times and New York Post reported.
There have been 12 confirmed cases elsewhere in the United States this month: seven in California, two in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio.
All of these infections have been relatively mild, with only one person staying in hospital for a brief time, said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization's director-general for health security and environment.
In Mexico, a new type of swine flu virus is thought to have killed 86 people since April 13. More than 1,300 others have become ill with suspected cases of the infection.
President Felipe Calderon on Saturday invoked new powers that give his government special powers to run tests on sick people and order them isolated, a day after all public events in Mexico City were ordered suspended until further notice.
Churches deserted in Mexican capital
In Mexico City, church services were cancelled on Sunday. Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral was broadcast over the radio.
The latest measures come one day after experts advising the World Health Organization on the outbreak met at WHO headquarters in Geneva. The UN health agency declared the epidemic "a public health emergency of international concern."
The panel will convene on Tuesday to advise the WHO whether to raise the global pandemic alert level. The current alert level is 3 on a scale of 1 (low risk of human cases) to 6 (efficient, sustained transmission between humans).
New Zealand Health Minister Tony Ryall confirmed on Sunday a group of Auckland college students who returned from a three-week visit to Mexico on Saturday "likely" have swine flu.
"Ten of the 13 students who had flu-like symptoms have proven positive for influenza A and the swine flu is a subset of influenza A," he said. So we're going to send the swabs to Melbourne for further analysis. We should have that information in a matter of days, but our officials here think it's highly likely they have."
French Health Ministry officials said four possible cases of swine flu are under investigation, including a family of three in the Nord region and a woman in the Paris region. The four recently returned from Mexico.
Spain's Health Ministry said three people who just returned from Mexico were under observation in hospitals in the northern Basque region, in southeastern Albacete and the Mediterranean port city of Valencia.
'The makings of a pandemic'
Dr. Donald Low, the chief microbiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto who played a key role in battling the SARS crisis in 2003, says while there haven't been any confirmed cases in Canada yet, it could be just a matter of time before they appear.
"Considering that we see about 600,000 people travel from Mexico to Canada each year and that we've just come through the March break period, it wouldn't be surprising at all for us to recognize cases in Canada, and we're preparing for that, as we have been preparing for a pandemic in the last five years," he told CBC News.
"What you're seeing here is the makings of a pandemic," Low said. "You're seeing a new virus that we have no natural immunity to. You're seeing a virus that can cause disease, and in causing disease, can transmit from person to person.
"All it needs to complete that equation is the recognition that it's spreading over a wide geographical area. And I think that's what we're hearing this weekend, that it's actually happening," he said.