Disturbing reports have emerged that suggest North Carolina is involuntarily quarantining patients who may have the flu virus that is thought to be spreading across the U.S. and the rest of the globe.
The details appear in a report by Adam Owens of N.C. based WRAL news:
The state's health director said Monday afternoon that there are suspected cases of swine flu in North Carolina, but declined to say how many cases or where they were located.
Dr. Jeffrey Engel said Monday evening that officials are involuntarily isolating patients who may have the virus. He declined to specifically say how many suspected cases were in the state, noting that the number is always changing, and he declined to say where they were located.
"We're working very closely with providers, and they are investigating cases on a daily basis," Engel said.
Investigators were gathering specimens and hope to know whether the cases are "probable" some time Tuesday and will seek confirmations by Wednesday.
Despite the fact that there have been no deaths outside Mexico, and less than 100 confirmed cases worldwide, the United Nation's WHO has raised it's alert to level four, the highest it has ever been, just two levels below a full scale pandemic.
Around 150 deaths in Mexico have been connected to the swine flu, but only 18 cases have been definitively linked to the virus through laboratory testing.
1600 more people have complained of flu-like symptoms since the Mexican authorities publicised their concern about the virus on April 23.
However, the number of new cases reported by Mexico's largest government hospitals has been declining for the past three days, according to government officials, from 141 on Saturday to 119 on Sunday and 110 Monday.
Flu deaths are nothing new in the United States. The CDC estimates that about 36,000 people died of flu-related causes each year, on average, during the 1990s in the U.S.
Seasonal flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people globally in an average year.
Experts have said that the danger of the new flu strain - which has been misnamed "swine flu", owing to the fact that it is a combination of pig, bird and human viruses - is that it is a primer for further mutations that humans may have no natural immunity to.