May 16, 2009 / 8:31 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 5-Turkey confirms first two cases of H1N1 flu

* Two cases of H1N1 flu confirmed in Turkey

* Virus detected in travellers from the United States

(Updates with details on second case)

By Ayla Jean Yackley

ISTANBUL, May 16 (Reuters) - Turkey on Saturday confirmed its first two cases of H1N1 influenza after tests showed the mother of the first victim, an American male, had also contracted the virus, a Health Ministry official said.

The man, travelling with his family from the United States via Amsterdam, was diagnosed after arriving at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport en route to Iraq on Friday, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag said at a news conference.

Six family members travelling with the man were also quarantined at a Turkish research hospital, where they were being given anti-viral medication, Akdag said.

Tests showed the man’s mother was also infected with the H1N1 virus, Harun Celik, the Health Ministry’s spokesman, told Reuters. Local media had reported earlier the man’s wife was suffering from the disease, but Celik denied those reports.

“His mother also tested positive for swine flu. None of the other family members have any health issues,” Celik said.

The entire family will be held for observation until May 21 to determine whether they may have contracted swine flu, because the virus takes up to a week to manifest itself, Akdag said.

India on Saturday also reported its first victim of the H1N1 virus. The spread of the disease has led the World Health Organisation to declare a pandemic is imminent.

India and Turkey are the 37th and 38th countries to confirm cases of H1N1 virus. The WHO said on Saturday 72 people had died from the disease or its complications.

The Iraqi-American family was travelling on a KLM aircraft to Istanbul that was carrying 163 passengers, most of whom are now being monitored for signs of the flu, Akdag said.

“We know of the existence of a few (passengers) whom we’ve been unable to contact,” Akdag said. “They need to be alert so that they can be given preventative medicine and in order to protect others.”

Thermal cameras set up at the Istanbul airport had detected the man had a high fever, and tests at the national laboratory revealed he was carrying the H1N1 virus, Akdag said.

“Everything is under control,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told reporters when asked about the diagnosis of the country’s first H1N1 case. “Everything is being monitored closely.”

The WHO has said there were 8,451 confirmed cases of infections with the influenza strain that is a mixture of swine, bird and human viruses. (For a WHO map of the spread of cases, go to: here) (For more Reuters swine flu coverage, please click here: here) (For WHO information on swine flu, go to: here)

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