Apr 28, 2009 at 06:34pm IST

WHO declares swine flu medical emergency

New Delhi: After taking more than 150 lives in Mexico alone, swine flu has been declared a medical emergency by the World Health Organisation.

With 11 confirmed cases in the US, two in UK, two in British Columbia, three in Nova Scotia and five suspected cases in Canada, countries world wide are taking measures and issuing travel advisories.

India has alerted those travelling to Mexico, USA, Canada, France and New Zealand. Passengers flying into India from affected countries will be screened at six major Indian airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Goa

Several Asian and middle eastern countries have stepped up protective measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Also Britain has detected the first two cases of swine flu - a Scottish couple who were honeymooning in Mexico.

It's too late to contain the swine flu virus says the WHO. It has raised its alert level from three to four and is just short of declaring it a full pandemic.

Alert four means human to human transfer of virus is possible.

Swine flu facts

Swine flu is a respiratory disease associated with pigs, but in this case the H1N1 strain of swine flu has affected humans and is spreading through human-to-human contact. This means it can continue to mutate, making it hard to treat.

H1N1 viruses characterised in this outbreak has not been previously detected in pigs or humans. The symptoms are similar to those of regular flu - fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting.

There in no vaccine for the virus, though experts recommend the use Tamiflu. As a precautionary measure, people are being advised to avoid travel to affected areas .

Avoid exposure to people who have the flu and follow good hygiene practices like washing hands regularly.