Two confirmed swine flu cases in Israel

WHO raises pandemic alert to second highest level, believes global outbreak of disease imminent.

swine flu check up 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
swine flu check up 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Two Israelis who recently returned from Mexico have been confirmed by the Health Ministry as having contracted swine flu, but both are in good condition and being kept in isolation only to prevent them from spreading the new strain of pig, avian and human influenza. The first to have a confirmed case was 26-year-old Tomer Vajim, who was hospitalized at Netanya's Laniado Medical Center on Sunday after having high fever following a trip to Mexico. The second one was a 49-year-old man who was admitted to Kfar Saba's Meir Medical Center after suffering from a high temperature and other flu-like symptoms. Both have been given the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu, which prevents complications. Five more Israelis - two children and three adults - were suspected of having swine flu. But the Health Ministry announced on Wednesday night that test results had come back negative. All of them were in very good condition, said Dr. Itamar Grotto, ministry deputy director-general in charge of public health services. Asked why he thought people were dying in Mexico, Grotto suggested that that country did not have supplies of Tamiflu and that health services here are at a higher level. In Geneva Wednesday night, The World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert for swine flu to the second highest level, meaning that it believes a global outbreak of the disease is imminent. The five people in Israel believed to have swine flu include a 34-year-old gardener who suffered from flu-like symptoms after visiting Mexico. He is being isolated inside Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. A 56-year-old woman who returned from Mexico with flu-like symptoms went on Wednesday to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba and was hospitalized just in case. A nine-year-old boy who was on El Al's flight No. 026 from Newark along with the man at Meir, is under observation a Tel Aviv's Dana Children's Hospital on the Sourasky campus. He was on the same flight as the infected man hospitalized at Meir. Vajim's five-year-old niece was also being held in isolation at the hospital amid concern that she, too, contracted the virus. She was hospitalized in good condition after suffering from a high temperature, sore throat and other flu-like symptoms. In addition, a 42-year-old man who recently returned from Mexico was admitted on Tuesday to the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem. Before the onset of Independence Day, an urgent meeting was held at the Prime Minister's Office and attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman to discuss whether management of the potential outbreak should continue to be under the aegis of the Health Ministry or be transferred to the Defense Ministry. It was decided for the time being not to switch responsibility. Grotto called on the public to wash their hands with soap and water frequently, especially if they suffer from coughing or sneezing. Anyone with such symptoms should see a doctor and not use public transportation, he said. Those who have been to Mexico recently and feel ill should go to a doctor, and nonurgent visits to Mexico should be postponed. A regional meeting to discuss ways of coping with the outbreaks in various parts of the world will apparently be held soon and be attended by representatives from Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. Neither Egypt nor the PA have reported any swine flu cases, but they are aware that it could spread in the region.