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Five new UK flu cases confirmed



USS Dubuque (file image)
Ill crew on the USS Dubuque were given anti-viral medication

The US navy is postponing an aid mission to the South Pacific after a sailor on the vessel scheduled to take the trip developed swine flu.

Nearly 50 others sailors on the California-based USS Dubuque also showed symptoms of the new H1N1 virus.

A US Navy spokesman said officials would be looking at other alternatives to meet the mission's objectives.

Earlier, a woman from Texas become the first US resident believed to have died from swine flu.

The woman - from Cameron County, close to the US border with Mexico - died earlier this week, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) said.

CONFIRMED CASES
Microscope image of the H1N1 swine flu virus, from US Centers for Disease Control (28/04/2009)
Mexico: 101 suspected deaths - 29 confirmed; 840 confirmed cases
US: Two deaths, 421 confirmed cases
Canada: 165 confirmed cases
Spain: 73 confirmed cases
UK: 28 confirmed cases
Does not include countries with fewer than 20 cases

But it added that she had been suffering "chronic underlying health conditions".

Lt Cmdr John Daniels said the navy was using "using prudent judgment" in cancelling the deployment of the USS Dubuque.

The amphibious transport vessel normally carries more than 400 crew and about 900 Marines.

It had been due to depart in early June for Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands as part of America's Pacific Partnership humanitarian programme.

Lt Daniels said the mission would still go ahead at some point but the USS Dubuque would no longer be part of it.

Navy Lt Sean Robertson said ill crew members had been treated with anti-viral medication and the remaining crew had been given prophylaxis.

Swedish case

The unnamed woman who died in Texas was in her 30s and had recently given birth.

Leonel Lopez, Cameron County epidemiologist, said the flu itself was "very benign" but had exacerbated her underlying medical problems.

The woman became the second confirmed person to have died from swine flu outside Mexico. A Mexican toddler died of the virus in the US in April.

There are 61 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu reported in Texas, said the DSHS.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said that 1,516 swine flu cases had been verified in 22 countries.

After Mexico, the US has seen the greatest number of laboratory-confirmed infections, at 421.

Sweden is the latest country to have confirmed swine flu, reporting that a woman in her 50s who recently returned from the US had contracted the virus, but recovered quickly.

US Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged that the virus would continue to spread in the United States and elsewhere in the world, and more deaths would follow.

The WHO has urged nations to remain vigilant in spite of the apparently relatively mild nature of swine flu, saying a global pandemic remains a threat.

It points out that the number of infections has continued to grow worldwide.



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