Europe Monitoring Swine Flu Cases

Swine flu cases have been reported in Germany, Scotland and Spain. Health officials across Europe are preparing for more cases.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Health officials around the world are on high alert as swine flu takes its erratic path. The common thread seems to be some connection with Mexico. And in this part of the program were going to hear from our reporters in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. We begin in Europe, where cases have been confirmed in Germany, Scotland and Spain. From Madrid, Jerome Socolovsky reports.

JEROME SOCOLOVSKY: The first Spanish cases involve students from the University of Valencia whod been on a trip to Mexico with more than 150 classmates. In Scotland, the case involve a honeymooning couple also just back from Mexico. And several cases in Germany have just been confirmed.

With dozens of suspected cases spread around Spain, there are some scenes similar to those in Mexico with people going in and out of hospitals and airports wearing surgical masks.

In Madrid, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero urged people in the country not to panic.

Prime Minister JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO (Spain): (Foreign language spoken)

SOCOLOVSKY: We have the scientific and the therapeutic means to respond to the situation, he said.

Spain, France and Britain have stockpiles of antivirals, much of it from the avian flu epidemic. But Germany and the Netherlands have limited supplies.

At major airports across Europe, health officials are on the lookout for people with symptoms on flights from Mexico and the U.S. Russian authorities are ordering planes with affected passengers to special zones where health officials can board the aircraft. Bulgaria has installed thermal scanners at Sofia Airport.

The governments of Spain, Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden have advised all their citizens against non-essential travel to Mexico. Russia has banned imports of meat and raw pork products from Mexico and a number of U.S. states.

Jerome Socolovsky, NPR News.

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Correction April 29, 2009

In some broadcasts, in referring to anti-viral drugs, we mistakenly said, "A German health expert argues that the vaccines don't save lives, but just alleviate the symptoms." There is no vaccine against swine flu.

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