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Swine flu

Swine flu

Published on April 27, 2009
Flu A/H1N1

Paris, May 21, 2009

Summary

In mid-April, U.S. health officials declared the outbreak of a flu epidemic caused by a new type of virus (A/H1N1). This epidemic began in Mexico in mid-March and then spread to the U.S. and Canada, transmitted notably in schools. Further cases were detected in some 40 countries on every continent, and on April 29, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it had raised the alert level to 5, given the global spread of the epidemic.

Update (as of May 21, 2009)

1. The epidemic has spread throughout the United States. Nearly 6,000 cases have been confirmed, but health officials estimate that more than 100,000 people have been infected. The vast majority of cases have been unproblematic, although there have been about a dozen deaths.

2. Federal officials have declared this epidemic a “national health emergency.” This is a formality that makes it possible to free up federal funds and personnel to focus on preventing the spread of the virus at the state level.

3. U.S. officials encourage the residents of affected regions and travelers to those areas to follow the following basic recommendations:
- wash your hands frequently, if possible using an alcohol-based solution
- try to avoid contact with infected people
- if you have flu-like symptoms, call your doctor, stay home and limit contact with other people.

The symptoms of A/H1N1 are similar to those of the regular flu: a high fever, coughing, sore throat, achiness, headaches, chills and fatigue.

4. The Embassy of France and its Consulates are in constant contact with U.S. officials. They have confirmed that foreigners residing or traveling in the United States may be assured of full coverage at U.S. medical facilities.

Travel information and recommendations

1. The WHO and U.S. health authorities do not recommend limiting travel because of the new A/H1N1 flu.

2. France recommends caution to travelers to Mexico and the United States. School trips to the two countries are not advised.

3. The French authorities recommend that travelers to these countries:

• Exercise basic hygiene (wash hands frequently, air out living quarters); avoid all contact with sick people

• Consult a local physician in the event of fever or flu-like symptoms

• Contact the local French Embassy or Consulate if you need assistance.

4. Health officials have also issued the following recommendations for asymptomatic persons returning from Mexico:

• Professionals returning from Mexico who are in contact with children less than a year old should suspend their professional activity for seven days following their return

• Children less than a year old returning for Mexico should not be in contact with other children of the same age for seven days

• Parents and others returning from Mexico should, in order to protect those around them, strictly respect health measures, especially if they live with a child less than a year old.

For the time being, health officials are not imposing a quarantine. Only health or local government officials can decide to establish a quarantine.

5. Measures taken concerning visitors from or to Mexico and the United States:

Arrivals in France

• Information forms are distributed to all passengers aboard flights from Mexico and the United States. If necessary, they make it possible to identify passengers who have been in contact with infected persons and to offer them the appropriate medical care

• In the event that a passenger presents flu-like symptoms aboard a flight from the United States to Roissy-CDG, the plane will land at a special terminal.

• Flights to other airports will land at their initial destination. Medical facilities exist at all sites.

• Upon their arrival, symptomatic passengers are reported to Centre 15 (the medical emergency service hotline) and individually treated.

Departures from France

• Information documents are distributed to all passengers to Mexico and the United States.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

1. You can monitor the situation in real time on all of the following Web sites:

American sites:
www.cdc.gov/swineflu
www.cdc.gov/travel
www.pandemicflu.gov

WHO site:
www.who.int/en

French sites:
www.invs.sante.fr
www.diplomatie.gouv.fr

- For information on the local situation, please consult [fill in].

2. Two telephone numbers are available for families in France:

- The Health Ministry crisis center:
from France: 0825.302.302
from abroad: 33/1-53-56-73-23

- The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs – travel information:
33/1-45-50-34-60.

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