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Developments on swine flu worldwide

Key developments Sunday on swine flu outbreaks:
_ Deaths: 103, all in Mexico. 22 confirmed as swine flu, 81 suspected.
_ Sickened: 1,614 in Mexico, suspected or confirmed; 20 confirmed in U.S.; 6 confirmed in Canada; 13 suspected in New Zealand; 1 confirmed and 17 suspected in Spain; 1 suspected in France; 1 suspected in Israel; 1 suspected in Brazil.

_ Locations in Mexico: 17 states, including Mexico City, Mexico State, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Baja California and San Luis Potosi. Some, including Oaxaca, Mexico City and Baja California, have tourist areas, but authorities have not said where in these states the outbreaks occurred.

_ Locations in U.S.: 8 in New York, 7 in California, 2 in Kansas, 2 in Texas and 1 in Ohio.
_ Safety measures in Mexico: In Mexico City, surgical masks given to subway passengers, public events canceled, schools and public venues closed and church services postponed. President Felipe Calderon has assumed new powers to isolate infected people. World Bank is providing Mexico with more than $200 million in loans to help with the outbreak.

_ Safety measures in U.S: Roughly 12 million doses of Tamiflu being moved from federal stockpile to be delivered to states. Travelers at border asked about travel to flu-stricken areas. St. Francis Preparatory School in New York City, where eight cases are confirmed, closed Monday and Tuesday. St. Mel's Catholic School in Fair Oaks, Calif., closed until at least Thursday as officials investigate possible infection of seventh-grader. Fourteen schools in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District in Texas, including high school where two cases are confirmed, closed for at least the next week.

_ Safety measures worldwide: Airports screening travelers from Mexico and United States for flu symptoms. China, Russia, Taiwan and Bolivia plan to put anyone with symptoms under

quarantine. Hong Kong and South Korea warn against travel to Mexico City and three provinces. Italy, Poland and Venezuela advised citizens to postpone travel to affected areas of Mexico and the United States. Some countries increasing screening of pigs and pork imports or banning them outright.

An around-the-world, 66-year love story

"One look at him and that was that," says Yvonne Ridgway, 88, about her husband of 66 years, Douglas. She offers up a picture of a debonair young gentleman holding a pipe. "He was always handsome." She reaches to grab her husband's hand.
The Ridgways' life together began while waiting for a bus, though it was miles away from the Sunset District home they've shared since 1952 (and bought for $12,500, by the way). Both had been raised in Tientsin (now called Tianjin), a port city in the far north of then pre-communist China. Yvonne, whose French family lived in what was called the foreign "concessions," was one of eight children; her father was in finance. Douglas' British father went to China after World War I to be a dentist. Both talk about their childhoods with great fondness.
Yvonne was headed for the French Country Club when she bumped into Douglas in 1941. Only 19, she was smitten by Douglas' charm, and timed her trip the next day in hopes of running into him again. Sure enough, he arrived. "From then on," she says, "we were always together."
But outside their bubble of love was a tumultuous world. Japanese forces had invaded China in the late 1930s. In 1941, most of the foreign forces had been expelled and by 1943 foreigners were being detained in work camps. The couple wanted to marry so they wouldn't be split up if they were sent away, but Yvonne's father wouldn't give his permission. "He thought it wrong to marry in wartime," she says.
So they went to the Catholic church and made a secret plan. Douglas took Yvonne's religion; she took his nationality. On the day they were to marry, Yvonne's father arrived at the church, "raising hell," Yvonne says. Still, they went ahead with the ceremony, though it was a month before her father finally spoke to them.
"I think my mom went on a hunger strike," says Yvonne, "until my father gave in."
In 1943, Douglas was sent to a camp, and Yvonne was sent there a year later. Both say their treatment at the hands of Japanese soldiers was kind.
"We were fortunate," says Douglas. When the war was over, Allied planes parachuted supplies into their camp. Yvonne was then expecting the first of their four boys, which, according to Chinese tradition, they still refer to by birth number: "No. 1 son."
By 1949, when the Communists took control, the couple prepared to immigrate. They arrived in San Francisco in 1950 with two sons, a few pieces of Chinese furniture and little else. As their family grew, Douglas worked selling printing presses, work he continued in for 28 years; Yvonne worked at Macy's for 24 years. They've traveled widely, but never back to China.
"We can't go back," says Douglas. "We were there in the good times."
Philosophy behind their long marriage?
Douglas: "Never go to bed mad."
Yvonne: "When you are in a prison camp, you learn to live with nothing, and if something breaks, you fix it."


Friends are the best medicine

In the quest for better health, many people turn to doctors, self-help books or herbal supplements. But they overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends.
Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.
"In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn't terribly well appreciated," said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. "There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships."
In a new book, "The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a 40-Year Friendship" (Gotham), Jeffrey Zaslow tells the story of 11 childhood friends who scattered from Iowa to eight different states. Despite the distance, their friendships endured through college and marriage, divorce and other crises, including the death of one of the women in her 20s.
Using scrapbooks, photo albums and the women's own memories, Zaslow chronicles how their close friendships have shaped their lives and continue to sustain them. The role of friendship in their health and well-being is evident in almost every chapter.
Two of the friends have recently learned they have breast cancer. Kelly Zwagerman, now a high school teacher who lives in Northfield, Minn., said that when she got her diagnosis in September 2007, her doctor told her to surround herself with loved ones. Instead, she reached out to her childhood friends, even though they lived far away.
"The first people I told were the women from Ames," she said in an interview. "I e-mailed them. I immediately had e-mails and phone calls and messages of support. It was instant that the love poured in from all of them."
When she complained that her treatment led to painful sores in her throat, an Ames girl sent a smoothie maker and recipes. Another, who had lost a daughter to leukemia, sent Zwagerman a hand-knitted hat, knowing her head would be cold without hair; still another sent pajamas made of special fabric to help cope with night sweats.
Zwagerman said she was often more comfortable discussing her illness with her girlfriends than with her doctor. "We go so far back that these women will talk about anything," she said.
Zwagerman says her friends from Ames have been an essential factor in her treatment and recovery, and research bears her out. In 2006, a study of nearly 3,000 nurses with breast cancer found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. Notably, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn't associated with survival. Just having friends was protective.
Bella DePaulo, a visiting psychology professor at UC Santa Barbara, whose work focuses on single people and friendships, notes that in many studies, friendship has an even greater effect on health than does a spouse or family member. In the study of nurses with breast cancer, having a spouse wasn't associated with survival.
While many friendship studies focus on the intense relationships of women, some research shows that men can benefit, too. In a six-year study of 736 middle-age Swedish men, attachment to a single person didn't appear to affect the risk of heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did. Only smoking was as important a risk factor as lack of social support.
Exactly why friendship has such a big effect isn't entirely clear. While friends can run errands and pick up medicine for a sick person, the benefits go well beyond physical assistance; indeed, proximity does not seem to be a factor.
It may be that people with strong social ties also have better access to health services and care. Beyond that, however, friendship clearly has a profound psychological effect. People with strong friendships are less likely than others to get colds, perhaps because they have lower stress levels.
Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.


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