Scientist 'misquoted' on swine flu origin
Tue, 02 Jun 2009 12:00a.m.
An American scientist says he was
misquoted in reports claiming the swine flu virus originated in
"either New Zealand or China".
"The statement was based on early phylogenetic analysis of
available sequences. It was misquoted," Professor Gus Kousoulas of
the School of Veterinary Sciences at Lousiana University told the
New Zealand Science Media Centre.
"There is no basis currently to support a New Zealand origin.
While we still do not know the true origin, a US or Mexico origin is
more likely," he added.
Swine flu, or influenza A(H1N1), hit the headlines when a group
of New Zealand high school students contracted the virus while on a
trip to Mexico in April.
The World Health Organisation said that since then 53 countries
had reported 15,510 cases of swine flu, including 99 deaths.
The number of suspected flu cases in New Zealand is steady with
all nine confirmed cases now recovered.
However, Australia's swine flu tally has passed 400 as Victoria
recorded a massive surge in cases, most of them children.
Most of the new cases in Victoria involved young people aged five
to 18, prompting a 12th Victorian school to be closed on Monday. Two
schools in Cairns also will be closed this week after two
13-year-old girls tested positive for the virus.
New Zealand schools are also being warned they might have to
close if students test positive for swine flu.
The Ministry of Health is writing to all schools this week,
warning of possible closures of up to a week where flu cases are
Director of public health Mark Jacobs said confirmed swine flu
cases could lead to school closures.
Schools would have to plan on how to notify parents and identify
how to continue lessons. It was only a matter of time before more
cases emerged in New Zealand, he said.
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