SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The Dominican Republic reported its first swine flu cases on Wednesday: two women who tested positive for the virus after returning from the United States.
The women, ages 58 and 20, have fully recovered, Health Minister Bautista Rojas said. One returned from Seattle, the other from Orlando, Florida.
Health officials sent lab tests to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which confirmed the cases, he said. Nine people who came in contact with the women are being monitored.
The government also closed a school in Santo Domingo for a week as a preventive measure after 46 students reported flu symptoms. Five of them were in contact with people returning from the U.S., according to Rojas.
Officials already were monitoring the health of 300 students and 12 teachers who travelled with three Chilean women later diagnosed with swine flu. A Russian man who recently honeymooned in Punta Cana also became sick.
The Dominican Republic joins Puerto Rico and Cuba as the only places in the Caribbean with confirmed cases.
A Cayman resident was tested last week for swine flu. The results came back negative Friday.
Doctors were doubtful that the patient had swine flu, as she did not develop symptoms until 15 May – eight days after returning from the trip. The woman had also returned to a sick family.
Symptoms of the H1N1 virus generally present in patients within seven days of infection.
The woman was treated with the antiviral Tamiflu and ordered to stay at home, where family members were instructed to wear face marks and avoid sleeping in the same room as her.
Seventeen people in the Cayman Islands have been tested for flu-like symptoms since news of the H1N1 outbreak began, but all have returned negative results.
Health officials have said they think it is only a matter of time before a case of the virus arrives on Cayman’s shores, pointing to the sheer number of international tourists that the islands welcome every year.
At least 100 people have died worldwide and another 12,500 have been infected.