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U.S. learned late of Mexico flu

WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials first knew of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico a week after Mexican officials first took steps to keep it from spreading, officials said.

Mexico first alerted Canada about the unusual strain of virus involved in the epidemic, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper said communication apparently remains imperfect, with Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control telling reporters Saturday she did not know if the number of cases was increasing in Mexico.

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In Mexico, 81 deaths had been blamed on the outbreak as of Saturday with 1,300 suspect cases, the newspaper said. In the United States, 11 people had been confirmed to have the virus in California, Texas and Kansas, with no deaths.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said that preliminary tests showed the virus likely to be present in eight students at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, The New York Times reported.

"All the cases were mild, no child was hospitalized, no child was seriously ill," Frieden said.

While the number of cases even in Mexico remains small, any new flu strain raises fears of a repeat of the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, which killed millions of people around the world.

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