July 8, 2009 / 10:54 AM / 10 years ago

Afghanistan says 14 H1N1 cases on U.S. military base

KABUL (Reuters) - Fourteen new cases of the H1N1 flu virus have been reported among U.S. citizens on the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, the Afghan Health Ministry said on Wednesday, the second confirmed cases in three months.

This preliminary negative stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) image depicts some of the ultrastructural morphology of an H1N1 "swine flu" virus culture obtained from a California patient suffering from the current international flu outbreak, in an image obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, April 28, 2009. REUTERS/C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish/Centers for Disease Control/Handout

“In the past few days, 14 cases of the H1N1 flu have been reported from Bagram Air base among U.S. citizens. All of them were treated and have recovered and returned to work,” ministry spokesman Farid Raaid told Reuters by telephone.

Bagram is just north of the capital, Kabul.

The ministry was conducting rapid assessments of health clinics in the area around Bagram but had so far not found any suspected cases, Raaid said. No cases of H1N1 had been detected among Afghans, he said.

Raaid said the ministry had known of about four suspected cases of the virus, commonly known as swine flu, at Bagram Air Base but the U.S. ambassador on Wednesday told the health minister there had been 14 confirmed cases.

The first confirmed case of the virus in Afghanistan was around three months ago, Raaid said, when a foreigner showed symptoms but returned to his country of origin. Raaid did not say what country the man was from.

Bagram is the main U.S. military air base in the country, home to thousands of U.S. and other international soldiers as well as hundreds of civilian staff.

On Saturday, Afghanistan’s only known pig was released from quarantine, two months after he was locked away because of swine flu fears.

The pig, a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, was quarantined because visitors to the zoo were worried it could spread the virus to people.

The World Health Organization declared on June 11 that the outbreak of the virus was a pandemic. More than 77,000 people have been infected worldwide. Most people who have caught the infection have suffered mild symptoms.

Reporting by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Paul Tait

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