Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 08:09 UK

US Kuwait troops suffer swine flu

US troops in Iraqi desert
Kuwait is used as a base to support troops in Iraq

Eighteen US soldiers in Kuwait have been tested positive for swine flu, health authorities have said.

The cases are the first to be reported from the Gulf region since the H1N1 outbreak of influenza type A began last month in Mexico.

A Kuwaiti health spokesman told the AFP news agency that the personnel affected had already left the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 12,022 cases of swine flu around the world, with 86 fatalities.

New cases

"All the 18 soldiers have left Kuwait. They had normal symptoms of the disease and were given the necessary medication," public health department deputy Yussef Mendkar was quoted by AFP.

Kuwait is used as a logistics base for troops serving in Iraq. Some 15,000 troops are based there.

The US personnel had not come into contact with Kuwaiti citizens, the Reuters news agency said.

On Friday, 11 new cases of the disease were confirmed at a Spanish military school about 20 miles outside the capital Madrid.

The disease has now been confirmed in 44 countries, WHO said.

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