First U.S. death from swine flu confirmed in Texas |

First U.S. death from swine flu confirmed in Texas

special to the daily
People go to church to pray wearing masks to prevent contagion of the swine flu viru April 29, 2009 in Mexico city. Mexico is the epicenter of a deadly swine flu outbreak, which has been blamed for more than 150 deaths nationwide, while the number of cases under observation has reached 1,614. The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was still not inevitable however even though it has raised its alert to an unprecendented level four. Airlines and tour operators suspended flights to Mexico as new cases were confirmed across the globe and officials warned of more fatalities. AFP PHOTO EITAN ABRAMOVICH (Newscom TagID: afplivetwo856081) [Photo via Newscom]
AFP/Getty Images/Newscom | Newscom

American authorities confirmed the first death outside of Mexico from swine flu on Wednesday, as the number of confirmed cases of the disease continued to rise in Europe.

President Obama, in a morning news conference, called on local authorities to be vigilant in reporting new suspected cases and called on schools to consider closing temporarily if a confirmed case was reported among its students.

“This is obviously a serious situation, serious enough to take the utmost precautions,” Obama said.

In France, the health minister took the extraordinary step of calling for a suspension of all flights from the European Union to Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, even as the health secretary there said the death toll appeared to be stabilizing.

Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday in an interview with CNN that the first American death from the disease was a 23-month-old child in Texas. He gave no other details about the child. The death was confirmed by Obama, who said his “thoughts and prayers” were with the child’s family.

With fears about the outbreak of swine flu around the world deepening Wednesday, French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said the request to suspend all flights from the European Union to Mexico would be made at a meeting of European Union health ministers, due to be held Thursday in Luxembourg.

Cuba and Argentina, meanwhile, banned flights to Mexico, where swine flu is suspected of sickening well over 2,000 people . The CDC has advised Americans only to “avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico.”

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