A Swine Flu Update

May 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm (News) (, , )

I figured you guys might find this interesting. My mother (an epidemiologist) is currently attending a medical conference in Hungary. She sent me this.

Swine flu is spreading more widely than official figures indicate, with outbreaks in Europe and Asia showing it’s gained a foothold in at least 3 regions. One in 20 cases is being officially reported in the US, meaning more than 100 000 people have probably been infected nationwide with the new H1N1 flu strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the UK, the virus may be 300 times more widespread than health authorities have said, the Independent on Sunday [newspaper] reported yesterday [Sun 24 May 2009]. Japan, which has reported the most cases in Asia, began reopening schools at the weekend [23-24 May 2009] after health officials said serious medical complications had not emerged in those infected. The virus is now spreading in the community in Australia, Jim Bishop, the nation’s chief medical officer, said yesterday [24 May 2009]. “I think we will see the number rise,” Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio today after confirming the nation’s 17th case and saying test results are pending on 41 others. “This is going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.”

So far, 46 countries have confirmed 12 515 cases, including 91 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s latest tally. Almost 4 of every 5 cases were in Mexico and the US, where the pig-derived strain was discovered last month [April 2009]. Most of those infected experience an illness similar to that of seasonal flu. The main difference is that the new H1N1 strain is persisting outside the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Summer disease?

“While we are seeing activities decline in some areas, we should expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and perhaps more deaths over the weeks ahead and possibly into the summer,” Anne Schuchat, CDC’s interim deputy director for science and public health program, told reporters on a 22 May 2009 conference call.

The US has officially reported 6552 probable and confirmed cases, Schuchat said. “These are just the tip of the iceberg. We are estimating more than 100 000 people probably have this virus now in the US. There have been 9 deaths and more than 300 known hospitalizations,” she said. The fatalities exclude a woman in her 50s who died in New York over the weekend [23-24 May 2009].

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