WASHINGTON – A Marine based in California may have swine flu and is under quarantine, along with his roommate, pending test results, the commandant of the Marine Corps said Wednesday.
An additional 37 Marines at the Twentynine Palms base in Southern California who had come in contact with the sick Marine are restricted from going to the mess hall and troop formations until officials have a clear idea of whether any have been infected with the deadly virus.
The roommate is not showing any symptoms of swine flu.
The ill Marine suffered from vomiting and other flu-like symptoms, Gen. James Conway said at a Pentagon briefing. "The initial tests are that he is suspected to have the flu," Conway said.
But, he added, "He's doing fine. He's up and about, he says he feels pretty good. ... There appears to be no threat him in terms of loss of life."
The Pentagon would not identify the Marine.
His roommate and the other 37 Marines are receiving Tamiflu, Conway said. But the ailing Marine is not because "Tamiflu would not help him at this point."
"He has sort of reached the apex of the exposure," Conway said. "So he is being treated for some of his other symptoms, but he is not being treated against, let's say, getting the flu."
The Marine first complained of being sick on Saturday.
It's not clear how he may have contacted the virus. Conway said the Marine had not been to Mexico, but had traveled around the San Bernardino valley in Southern California.
The Centers for Disease Control is expected to have final test results for the sick Marine within the next two days, Conway said.
Until then, he and his roommate are confined to their room, and others in the barracks who have come into contact with him "are restricted in a very real sort of way — not going to public places, not going to formations, not going to the mess hall, those kinds of thing, until we have a clearer identity as to whether or not our first Marine has truly contacted the flu," Conway said.
Conway said no additional doctors or medications have been needed at the base so far. The military has 7 million doses of Tamiflu and other anti-viral treatments stockpiled for its troops.
"Our concern is the obvious exposure to other people, and the potential spread," Conway said. "And I'm confident we have a very aggressive doctor out there that is going by the book and being a little aggressive even beyond that, in terms of making sure that Marines are not exposing themselves to other Marines."
As many as 15,000 Marines are usually stationed at Twentynine Palms, the Marine Corps' largest base. But many are currently deployed across the world, and Conway did not immediately know how many were on base now.
The Marine is the first possible case of the illness that has shown up in America's armed forces of some 1.4 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
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