State officials ratched up their response to the swine flu outbreak Wednesday, with the governor declaring a disaster in Texas and the state acquiring more antiviral medication. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grew to 16 in Texas.
The unusual form of influenza has killed one child in Texas, and health officials revealed at a press conference Wednesday that another toddler and a pregnant woman, both of whom are critically ill, are likely infected as well.
The new cases are unconfirmed by the CDC, but officials believe their sickness is related to the outbreak, which is causing fears of a global pandemic, said State Health Commissioner Dr. David Lakey on Wednesday at a press conference with Governor Rick Perry and other state officials.
Officials did not identify where the new cases were located because family members were still being contacted. The ill toddler is 23 months old, Lakey said. The pregnant woman’s child was delivered by emergency cesarean section and was doing well.
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"The mother, however, is in critical condition," Lakey said. "Our thoughts and prayers are really with these families right now."
Even as they delivered that news, officials at the press conference urged Texans to keep perspective, reminding them that the majority of people in the U.S. who have fallen ill have only suffered mild symptoms and that state’s influenza pandemic response plan was well-rehearsed and in full motion.
"We have not only rehearsed this plan repeatedly, we have honed our team approach to disaster management during our response to numerous storms and wildfires and floods," said Perry, who also announced a disaster proclamation for the entire state. "There is no need to panic."
The University Interscholastic League announced that it will postpone athletic competitions, suspending the baseball season and eliminating the regional track championship.
Fears of swine flu have caused "a handful of districts" to voluntarily close, affecting about 53,000 students statewide, said Robert Scott, Texas Education Agency commissioner.
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