BOGOTA, Colombia – President Alvaro Uribe has the swine flu, and officials are contacting other South American governments whose leaders attended a summit last week with the Colombian leader, authorities said Sunday.
The 57-year-old Uribe began feeling symptoms Friday, the same day as a meeting of South American presidents in Bariloche, Argentina, and he was confirmed to have swine flu after returning home, Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio said.
“This isn’t something that has us scared,” Palacio said at a news conference. Uribe, a key U.S. ally in Latin America, is not considered a high-risk patient and will continue working from his computer, officials said.
Public health director Gilberto Alvarez said in a telephone interview that there was no need to put the president in isolation and that his condition would monitored for three days to a week.
No family members or close associates of Uribe have shown swine flu symptoms, officials said.
Dr. Alberto Cortez, an infectious disease specialist at Colombia’s Universidad Nacional, said it is possible the disease could have been passed on to other leaders at the summit. But he added it needs to be established when Uribe became sick to determine whether he picked up the virus in Argentina – where there are many cases – or if he arrived there with the disease.
Uribe is the second Latin American leader to come down with the swine flu.
On Aug. 11, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced he had swine flu and was being quarantined at his home. The 69-year-old leader has recovered.