Iraq confirms first cases of H1N1 flu virus

BAGHDAD Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:56am EDT

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's health minister confirmed Wednesday the country's first cases of the H1N1 flu virus, saying seven members of the women's national basketball team were being treated in hospital.

The squad had been playing in a championships in Chicago and returned to Iraq on June 20.

"Today, six cases of this epidemic flu, H1N1, have been diagnosed in our ministry's central lab," Health Minister Saleh Al-Hasnawi told a news conference.

Six were being treated in hospital in Iraq. One, who was detected as having the virus when the team passed through Jordan, is being treated there. All the patients were in good condition, the minister said.

Hasnawi said one member of the U.S.-led multinational military force in Iraq had also been confirmed Wednesday as having the H1N1 virus, but he gave no further details.

The H1N1 virus has spread around the globe and the World Health Organization has declared an influenza pandemic and advised governments to prepare for a long-term battle it.

There have been more than 50,000 confirmed cases of the virus and at least 237 people have died.

(Reporting by Aseel Kami; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jon Boyle)

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