The U.S. soldiers who were the first cases of swine flu virus detected in a Gulf state left their military base in Kuwait on Sunday as the total number of cases increase in other countries.
Health officials said that 18 soldiers tested positive for swine flu, but were not in contact with the local population, which was confirmed by the U.S. embassy in Kuwait.
They showed normal symptoms of the A(H1N1) influenza disease and were provided with the medication, according to a deputy at the Kuwaiti public health department, Yussef Mendkar.
The soldiers, whose names or ages were not disclosed to the reporters, arrived in Kuwait on transit as some of the other soldiers were quarantined in their base for appropriate medical treatment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that as many 43 countries have officially reported 12 022 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 86 deaths.
But the Arab states in the Middle East have not yet reported any confirmed cases of the flu virus.
Kuwait is one of the important allies of the United States in the region. The U.S. military uses the Gulf state as logistics base for its personnel serving in Iraq.
Kuwait is one of the destinations for millions of foreign workers and the authorities have stepped up efforts to increase surveillance of the passengers at the airport and sea ports.
The state’s carrier, Kuwait Airways Corp., has adopted precautionary measures including disinfecting its planes to ensure air hygiene, according to the official KUNA news agency.
Early this month, the WHO said limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, “but would be highly disruptive to the global community.”
“Although identifying the signs and symptoms of influenza in travelers can be an effective monitoring technique, it is not effective in reducing the spread of influenza as the virus can be transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms,” the international health agency said.