White House Issues Advisory After Obama Mexico Trip

Carol E. Lee & Josh Gerstein, The Politico, April 30, 2009

The White House has issued a health advisory outlining “protective measures” for anyone who traveled on President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico after a member of the U.S. delegation came down with flu-like symptoms–and tests on his family showed they’re probably infected with the swine flu.

The individual–an advance security staffer for Energy Secretary Steven Chu–appears to have spread the flu to his wife, son and nephew. All three have tested probable for swine flu, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday.

Gibbs, who did not name the security aide, said he did not work closely with Obama, didn’t fly on Air Force One and is back at work at the Energy Department.

But the staffer was at a working dinner Obama attended with Mexican officials April 16. The aide “was asked specifically if he ever came within six feet of the president, and the answer to that was ‘No,'” Gibbs said.

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Gibbs said Thursday that Chu’s aide developed a fever while in Mexico and that several of the aide’s relatives subsequently fell ill with flu-like symptoms. The aide has not tested positive for swine flu, probably because so much time has elapsed, but tests on his three relatives came back as “probable” cases on Tuesday, Gibbs said.

The man flew back to Washington on a commercial United Airlines flight that landed at Dulles International Airport on April 18, Gibbs said.

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Gibbs said a White House physician reported that about 10 staffers who traveled to Mexico visited him. But Gibbs said, “None of those people, however, came back with any positive tests.”

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