EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

National News

April 28, 2009

US cautious, not alarmed, as swine flu sickens 51

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A handful of schools around the country have closed over swine flu fears and some people are wearing masks, but it's mostly business as usual in the U.S., even at border crossings into Mexico.

While Asian countries deployed thermal sensors at airports to screen passengers from North America for signs of fever, there have been no extra screenings at the U.S. border with the country considered ground zero for the outbreak. Swine flu has killed over 150 people in Mexico, where schools have been canceled nationwide.

At the main pedestrian border crossing between El Paso and Mexico's Ciudad Juarez, people entering the country who said they felt unwell were questioned about their symptoms, but there were no reports of anyone refused entry.

Jorge Juarez and Miranda Carnero, both 18, crossed the border wearing bright blue masks. "It's just a precaution," said Juarez, who lives in El Paso and drew a smiley face on his mask.

Passengers from a Mexico City flight that arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey said they were surprised customs officials did nothing more than hand them an informational flier.

"Nobody cared when we got off the plane. We were surprised," said Lourdes Pizano, 51, of Montgomery Township, N.J., who was returning from a visit to relatives in Mexico City. "We thought they were going to bring us into a different gate, or segregate us."

"Everyone's afraid. But when we got here, they said, 'Welcome to America. You don't need that,"' said Alejandro Meneses of Fair Lawn, N.J., pointing to a paper mask hanging from his neck.

There were 51 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States: 28 at a private high school in New York City, 13 in California, six in Texas, two in Kansas, one in Ohio and one in Indiana. Only one American case has led to a hospitalization.

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