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9:34 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

Pandemic barely touches Mohave County

Despite global reach, swine flu limited to two confirmed cases here

KINGMAN - Two samples sent to the Arizona Department of Health have tested negative for swine flu, keeping the number of confirmed cases in Mohave County at two.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has declared the global outbreak of swine flu as the first influenza pandemic in 41 years.

"That classification is based on geography more than severity of the virus, meaning that we're seeing transmission globally," said Jennifer McNally, assistant director for the Mohave County Health Department.

More than 24,600 cases of swine flu, also known as H1N1, have been diagnosed in at least 69 countries, according to the WHO. At least 125 people have died from the virus.

A 6-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl, both from Lake Havasu City, were diagnosed with swine flu last month. Both have made complete recoveries.

There have been 597 confirmed cases of swine flu and seven reported deaths in Arizona. Neighboring Coconino County has reported five confirmed cases while La Paz County has reported one confirmed case.

Publicity surrounding swine flu has led to some unnecessary panic, McNally said.

"For most people, this is just causing a mild illness, like the regular flu," she said. "Not that there's no cause for concern, but it shouldn't cause a great deal of worry."

McNally said those at risk for complications from swine flu are the same ones likely to experience complications from the regular flu virus, including the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as heart problems.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimates around 20,000 people die annually from flu or complications from the virus.

Symptoms of swine flu include high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and body aches. As with the regular flu, McNally said, those experiencing more severe symptoms or those with already compromised immune systems should seek medical attention.