This is the VOA Special English Health Report. Swine flu is a respiratory sickness caused by an influenza virus that mainly infects pigs. However, sometimes the virus can sicken humans. That is what has happened in Mexico in the last few weeks.
The virus is believed to have sickened at least two thousand people there. Mexican health officials suspect at least one hundred fifty-two people have died from swine flu. Many of those who died were young adults who were healthy before they became infected.
Mexico has suspended schools nationwide until at least May sixth. It has closed restaurants and churches. The government also cancelled large gatherings for sports, concerts and similar events. But many Mexicans have criticized the country's health measures. There are reports of seriously sick people being turned away from hospitals.
Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos says the government does not have enough health care workers for all the victims. But he says there is enough medicine to treat those who have swine flu.
The disease has spread to at least seven countries and is suspected in others. The United States has more than forty-eight confirmed cases in five states. The United States declared a public health emergency to permit the use of federal money and the use of flu medicines in federal storage. American officials so far have released about twelve million treatments of Tamiflu and sent them to the states. They say additional supplies are available if needed. President Obama has said officials are being watchful, not fearful.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people to avoid travel to Mexico. But it has not suggested a ban.
Swine flu can cause fever, head and muscle pain, cough, sore throat and stomach problems. If you have any of those signs, do not go to work or school. The only place you should go is to the doctor.
There are simple ways to help prevent spreading the virus. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands with soap and water completely and often. Avoid contact with people who appear to be sick.
Also, get enough good food and rest. Your body's natural defense system needs to be at its strongest to protect you against disease.
And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. I'm Doug Johnson.