The vicious new strain of swine flu continued its rampage across the United States, taking its first U.S. life, that of a toddler from Texas. The 2-year-old is the first American and first person outside of Mexico to die.
"A child has died from the H1N1 virus," Dr. Richard Besser, the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control, told CNN Wednesday. "As a parent and a pediatrician, my heart goes out to the family."
In Mexico, the virus has caused more than 159 deaths and about 2,500 illnesses. In addition to Texas, the violent disease has been identified in California and New York City, alarming health officials who say that cases – and deaths – are likely to rise.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has issued an executive decree detailing emergency powers of the Ministry of Health, according to the president's office.
Gregory Hartl, of the World Health Organization, said the strain of the virus seen in Mexico is worrisome because it has mutated from older strains.
"Any time that there is a virus which changes ... it means perhaps the immunities the human body has built up to dealing with influenza might not be adjusted well enough to dealing with this new virus," Hartl told CNN, noting that the virus is attacking young, healthy people.
Mexico City has closed all of its schools and universities because of the flu, and Mexico’s National Health Council said all of Saturday's soccer games would be played without public audiences.