Flu Anew: Swine Strain Flares Up Again

Another cluster in New York and deaths in Arizona and Texas

Any sense of complacency that the swine flu scare was over ended as deaths in Arizona and Texas were blamed on the virus and six New York high schools closed amid a fresh outbreak that left an assistant principal in critical condition.

The flu strain, which has killed at least 73 people worldwide, first flared up in April. Incidents had seemed to die down following a national campaign aimed at fighting the spread of the ailment, which is believed to have originated in Mexico. But authorities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that a woman in her 40s who died after battling a lung infection was determined to be a victim of swine flu. Later Friday, Texas officials said a Corpus Christi man in his thirties who died two weeks ago was killed by swine flu.

And a new outbreak in New York prompted the closing of six Queens special education schools, including the Susan B. Anthony Middle School, where Mitch Weiner is an assistant principal. His sons said Weiner is on a breathing tube and is barely able to talk. They disputed reports that Weiner had health problems before being diagnosed with swine flu.

 "The risk of complacency, or a sense that we have weathered this, is a serious one," Stephen Redd, director of Influenza Coordination at the CDC, warned last week.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said the affected students from the half-dozen schools, which will remain closed for at least a week, seemed to be experiencing minor symptoms.

In Houston, fever, headaches and stomach problems kept hundreds of kids out of school. Authorities there said that although two kids in the Houston Independent School District have been diagnosed with swine flu, they do not believe the strain affecting the other kids is swine flu.

Despite the recent flare-up, health officials say the swine strain does not appear to be any more dangerous than typical seasonal flu, which is also often deadly. The CDC said it was downgrading its warnings about travel to Mexico -- urging only people at high risk of flu to avoid the country.

Carnival Cruise Lines said it will resume trips to Mexican ports based on the CDC's guidelines.

"We are very pleased to resume our previous itineraries to Mexico, one of the cruise industry's most popular destinations, and we thank those guests who were impacted by the modified schedules in recent weeks for their understanding and patience," said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Still, even if the latest outbreak wanes, public health officials say swine flue could return in force next fall.

Meanwhile Friday, Mexico confirmed another two deaths were caused by swine flu, bringing that nation's total number of fatal cases to 66. Officials said the deaths represent 2.3% of total cases.

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