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Swine flu hits Japanese baseball team

Japanese baseball team the Nippon Ham Fighters said it would test all its members for swine flu after two players and a coach caught the virus.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2009 14:12 IST

Japanese baseball team the Nippon Ham Fighters said on Wednesday it would test all its members for swine flu after two players and a coach caught the virus.

The Hokkaido-based Pacific League team made the decision after former major league outfielder Terrmel Sledge, pitcher Naoki Miyanishi and head coach Junichi Fukura were confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Six other players, who were also showing flu symptoms, had been treated with medication and separated from other team members at a local hotel, team officials said.

"I was shocked to hear the news," Nippon Ham Fighters manager Masataka Nashida said. "I just hope that it won't spread further. We can't help but continue fighting with the players who are in good health."

The team still plans to go ahead with its scheduled games while providing visitors with disinfectant at the entry gates to its stadium. However non-game events involving fans have been cancelled.

Japan's government on Wednesday warned that a "full-fledged epidemic" of swine flu may have started after reporting the country's third death in five days linked to the virus.

Authorities believe tens of thousands of people have caught the A(H1N1) virus which first entered the island nation in May, although they say they have seen no sign of it mutating to become more deadly.