April 28, 2009 / 2:50 PM / in 10 years

Ernst & Young N.Y. employee has signs of swine flu

The entrances to the offices of Ernst & Young is seen in New York, April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An employee at the accounting firm of Ernst & Young in New York may have swine flu, the company said on Tuesday, possibly the first case in the city’s financial community.

A memo to staff on Monday had said it was a confirmed case and said the woman “became ill Sunday after contact with a family member who had been exposed to the virus. She has now been treated, is resting at home and is doing well.”

But the company issued a statement on Tuesday saying it could no longer confirm it was a verified case, although it said “out of an abundance of caution we have taken appropriate steps to protect the health of our employees.”

All previous confirmed cases in New York had been at a private school, where the virus has sickened at least 28 students. All are reported to be recovering from mild cases. The school was closed temporarily, and officials say the number of infected students could surpass 100.

Swine flu has killed up to 149 people in Mexico and sickened about 2,000 so far, official said, creating fears of a possible international pandemic. More than 50 mostly mild cases have been diagnosed in five U.S. states, with more expected. There have been no known U.S. fatalities.

The woman at Ernst and Young did not report to work on Friday and became sick on Sunday. The company said that since the disease has a 24-hour incubation period, it was unlikely that other Ernst & Young workers would be affected but they were given the option of working from home.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services identified five probable cases of the flu in people who recently traveled to Mexico or California. All had mild symptoms and none were hospitalized.

Test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected within two days.

Reporting by Chris Michaud, Emily Chasan and Bill Berkrot; Editing by Daniel Trotta and David Storey

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