There are now two probable cases of swine flu under investigation in Columbus, and one of those cases involves an employee at The Ohio State University Medical Center.
The Columbus Health Department confirmed Wednesday night that a second probable case of the virus had been discovered and was under investigation, 10TV's Brittany Westbrook reported.
Also on Wednesday evening, the Ohio State University issued a news release in which it said that a patient had received treatment for probable swine flu at the medical center. The release identified the patient as a medical center employee.
The patient, who was not identified, contracted the virus outside of the workplace, the release said.
The patient was treated, responded well to treatment, and was released on Wednesday night, the university said.
The news release said that people who had contact with the patient prior to admission were being notified.
The hospital did not announce any changes to patient visitation in light of the developments.
Earlier in the day, health officials confirmed that they were investigating the city's first probable case of swine flu. The person affected was an adult female, 10TV News reported.
Columbus Health Commissioner Teresa Long said the health department learned of the case on Tuesday night. She said it could take up to four days to determine if it is swine flu.
During a briefing attending by city and county authorities, Long said that the woman's co-workers were being evaluated as part of the investigation.
"We have been talking to them; they are all out of the workplace," Long said. "We are working with the workplace as well."
In addition to the probable cases, Columbus health officials said they were investigating up to five other suspected cases of swine flu, 10TV News reported.
The only confirmed case of the virus in Ohio occurred in Lorain County, near Cleveland. The case involves a 9-year-old boy who was recently vacationing in Mexico with his family.
The Geneva-based World Health Organization on Wednesday raised its alert level for the fast-spreading swine flu to its next-to-highest notch, signaling a global pandemic could be imminent.
The move came after the virus spread to at least 10 U.S. states from coast to coast and swept
deeper into Europe.
In the United States, President Barack Obama mourned the first U.S. death, a Mexican toddler who had traveled with his family to Texas. Total American cases surged to nearly 100, and Obama said wider school closings might be necessary.
In Mexico, where the flu is believed to have originated, officials said Wednesday the disease is now confirmed or suspected in 168 deaths, and nearly 2,500 illnesses.
There were no other deaths confirmed from the flu. But health officials in the United States and around the world braced for them.
Dr. Richard Besser, the acting chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Atlanta there were 91 confirmed cases in ten states, with 51 in New York, 16 in Texas and 14 in California. Two cases have been confirmed in Kansas, Massachusetts and Michigan, while single cases have been reported in Arizona, Indiana, Nevada and Ohio.
State officials in Maine said laboratory tests had confirmed three cases in that state, although those had not yet been included in the CDC count. And the Pentagon said that a Marine in southern California had tested positive for the disease.
WHO has confirmed human cases of swine flu in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Britain, Israel, New Zealand and Spain.
Germany and Austria became the latest countries to report infections. Germany reported four cases on Wednesday, Austria one.
In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was questioned closely by senators about whether the U.S. should close its border with Mexico, where the outbreak apparently began and the casualties have been the greatest. She repeated the administration's position that questioning of people at borders and ports of entry was sufficient for now and said closing borders "has not been merited by the facts."
The WHO said the phase 5 alert means there is sustained human to human spread in at least two countries. It also signals that efforts to produce a vaccine will be ramped up.
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