KUWAIT (Reuters) -- Eighteen U.S. soldiers in Kuwait have H1N1 flu, the first cases in the Gulf Arab oil-exporting region, a government official has said.
"[The soldiers] were confirmed with the virus upon their arrival from their country to the military base [in Kuwait]," Ibrahim al-Abdulhadi told Reuters.
Kuwait is a logistics base for the U.S. army for neighboring Iraq, where the U.S. military said there were no known cases yet of H1N1.
More details of the Kuwait cases were due to be given at a planned news conference.
"We are aware that H1N1 influenza cases have been tentatively confirmed among U.S. military personnel assigned abroad, including soldiers transiting via U.S. military bases in Kuwait," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on Kuwait's state news agency KUNA on May 24. "They have not come into any contact with the Kuwaiti population."
Major Jose A. Lopez, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said that while there were "no documented cases of the H1N1 amongst U.S. service members stationed in Iraq", all service members deploying were being screened on the way in.
"We are prepared to quickly and comprehensively respond to possible outbreaks," he said.
The United Arab Emirates said on May 21 that it had placed an air passenger from Canada in isolation over concerns he might have the H1N1 flu.
The flu has killed 86 people and infected more than 11,000 in 42 countries, according to health officials.