White House aide probably infected with swine flu

A man on the advance team for President Obama's visit to Mexico may have contracted the virus and passed it on to his family, but not to the president.

Published April 30, 2009 6:45PM (EDT)

At his daily briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that a man who was part of the advance team sent to Mexico before President Obama's trip there has come down with a case of what is suspected to be swine flu, and has passed it on to family members.

"This individual was a lead advance for the security detail of Energy Secretary Chu. The individual traveled to Mexico in advance of Secretary Chu's visit, arriving there on April 13th. He began to feel ill on April 16th, developed a fever on the 17th. He returned to the United States on April 18th," Gibbs said. "The following day, he visited his brother's home, where he likely spread the virus to his nephew... Over the course of the 20th and 21st, the individual's wife and young son developed flu-like symptoms... [A]ll four individuals experienced only mild symptoms, and all four have recovered."

The man himself tested negative for influenza, probably because, according to Gibbs, too much time had elapsed between the test and the onset of his symptoms. It has been confirmed that his wife, son and nephew have Influenza A, but further testing is being done to see whether they have the specific strain that's currently in the news, H1N1.

There doesn't appear to be any risk to members of the administration. The man worked specifically on Energy Secretary Steven Chu's detail, but Chu has not reported any symptoms and has not been tested. As for President Obama, he and the infected man did attend one dinner together, but were reportedly never within six feet of each other, and the incubation period has passed anyway.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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