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Mexico City Weighs Next Steps in Fight Against Flu Outbreak

Public health officials are expressing cautious optimism that the number of H1N1 flu cases may be leveling off. Ray Suarez reports from Mexico City on the center of the outbreak.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now to a report from Mexico City by Ray Suarez, who has been on the story in Mexico for the past few days.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    For the first time since the outbreak began in Mexico, more flu sufferers are leaving the hospital cured than are coming through the doors sick and needing treatment.

    At the National Institute for Respiratory Diseases, ground zero for sick patients from across the county, doctors like Jose Luis Sandoval Gutierrez are beginning to feel the worst of the H1N1 epidemic is over.

    DR. JOSE LUIS SANDOVAL GUTIERREZ, National Institute for Respiratory Diseases: For me, this crisis, epidemiology crisis is going down. It's controlled now.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Mexico and the world caught a break as this new strain emerged: A common antiviral flu treatment, Tamiflu, is effective against the disease. Several days of treatment with the drug, or another called Relenza, and most patients are on their way home.

  • DR. JOSE LUIS SANDOVAL GUTIERREZ:

    The response has been good, very good.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Laboratories around the world have been helping to screen Mexican samples, since the country's labs are overwhelmed by the demand. The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in Mexico crept up over the weekend, as testing answered questions, but mysteries remain.

    Fernando Flores, a street sweeper, did his morning's work in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City with a broken heart. His son, Roberto — in his late 20s, robust, no health problems, four children — died in the early days of the epidemic before doctors had identified the new strain. His death certificate says pneumonia.

  • FERNANDO FLORES (through translator):

    They did not really know what's going on with him. They were inventing medicines they were giving him. By the time they figured out what he had, my son was dead.

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