U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz said Monday that he would continue to closely monitor the swine flu virus after news that several dozen mild cases were reported in the United States.

None of these were in Congressional District 27, but individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact a medical doctor for treatment.

"People living along the U.S-Mexico border and those who have recently visited Mexico must be very careful to protect themselves against this virus, which is airborne," Ortiz said of the swine flu virus, which can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing or touching an infected area. "To my understanding, at this moment there are no confirmed cases of the swine flu in Nueces County."

Ortiz spoke with medical staff of the Texas Department of State Health Services via telephone earlier Monday and will continue to be in close contact with medical staff there as well as officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"I have asked my staff to remain attentive at all times," Ortiz said of monitoring the swine flu. "I encourage citizens to be vigilant and remain calm. If you have flu-like symptoms, please contact your medical doctor."

Ortiz recommended that people should wash their hands frequently and cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.

"As a representative of a border state, the swine flu virus concerns me very much," he said. "We cannot afford for any of our people to become ill with this virus.

"We must all be very careful and take the necessary precautionary methods that health officials are recommending."

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing Thursday on the outbreak and the country's federal response.

States reporting cases of swine flu are: California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas.

More than 100 people have died in Mexico from the swine flu and hundreds are believed to have the virus, according to Mexican news reports.

For more information on the swine flu, visit http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/.