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First Case of Swine Flu Confirmed in Russia

A 28-year-old man who works at a New York university was recuperating in a Moscow hospital on Sunday after being confirmed as Russia's first case of the A/H1N1 influenza virus, also known as the swine flu.

The unidentified man passed a medical check when he arrived at Sheremetyevo Airport last Monday on a Delta Air Lines flight from New York. But he began to feel unwell Wednesday and was hospitalized that night, said Gennady Onishchenko, the country's chief epidemiologist.

Subsequent tests confirmed that he was infected with the virus, Onishchenko said Friday.

It was unclear how he contracted the virus, which has caused a global health scare and has been linked to nearly 100 deaths.

The Federal Consumer Protection Service, which Onishchenko heads, said it believed that the patient had come into contact with someone infected with the virus before leaving for Russia. The man is in satisfactory condition and under observation at Infectious Clinical Hospital No. 1, Onishchenko said. "He is feeling OK," he said, Interfax reported. "He is getting adequate treatment. He has no fever, and his condition is satisfactory."

Everyone who has come into contact with the patient has been placed under observation, Onishchenko said.

It was not clear whether that included other passengers on the man's flight. Delta and Sheremetyevo spokespeople could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday.

Onishchenko provided no further details about the patient, and calls for comment to his agency went unanswered Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.

A doctor on duty at the Moscow branch of the agency who picked up the phone there Friday evening refused to comment.

An unidentified official with the Health and Social Development Ministry confirmed the case to Interfax, saying the patient had been "promptly hospitalized, bypassing the reception room right to the isolation ward."

The World Health Organization said Saturday that Russia had notified it about registering its first case of swine flu.

The WHO recommends Tamiflu and Relenza to treat swine flu, and Russian demand for the medications soared over the weekend in light of the first case, Vedomosti reported.

Onishchenko said the patient had been working in a New York university since September and that his family lives in the Moscow region town of Zhukovsky, 40 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

"All his relatives are healthy," Onishchenko said.

At least 12,022 swine flu cases have been registered in 43 countries, leading to a total of 86 deaths, according to the WHO. More than half of the flu cases have been confirmed in the United States.

Russian officials have been screening flights from the United States, which arrive in Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports, even though the WHO has warned that the checks cannot accurately detect ill passengers or curb the spread of the virus.

Onishchenko said more than 1,805 flights with 133,000 passengers and 12,700 crew members arriving to Russia from abroad have been screened at nine of the country's airports since swine flu broke out in early May.

On Friday alone, more than 6,000 people were checked upon arrival from what his agency calls countries of concern, including all North and South American countries as well as Spain and Japan.

Passengers arriving from these countries are having their temperatures checked by remote sensors, and those with high temperatures are being hospitalized and tested for the virus, Onishchenko said.

More than 20 passengers have been identified as having symptoms similar to swine flu, but all of them have been cleared in subsequent tests, he said.

Most recently, a man was hospitalized on Saturday after he arrived on a Delta flight from New York. Onishchenko said Sunday that tests had found that the man did not have swine flu, RIA-Novosti reported.

His agency, though, has instructed Sheremetyevo to expand the number of its medical staff checking passengers in light of the first confirmed swine flu case.

"We have also been ordered to examine passengers' luggage," Sheremetyevo spokeswoman Anna Zakharenkova told Interfax.

The medical staff has been on the lookout for raw meat, which doctors fear might carry the virus.


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