1 Million Americans Likely Stricken by Swine Flu: CDC

THURSDAY June 25, 2009 -- An estimated 1 million Americans have been infected with the H1N1 swine flu, which continues to produce mild illness and a fairly quick recovery in patients, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

The estimate is based on mathematical modeling, Lyn Finelli, a flu surveillance official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a vaccine advisory meeting in Atlanta, the Associated Press reported.

Nearly 28,000 cases -- about half the cases in the world -- have been reported to the CDC, including 3,065 hospitalizations and 127 deaths, the news service said. By comparison, an estimated 15 million to 60 million Americans are infected with the seasonal flu each year, leading to roughly 36,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday that the previously undiscovered virus, which first surfaced in mid-April in Mexico, has yet to show any signs of mutating.

Health officials are closely monitoring the H1N1 swine flu virus as it migrates from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere, where the flu season is now under way. Scientists are concerned the virus could mutate as it circulates around the world, becoming more virulent and posing a greater health threat.

"The virus is not mutating for the moment, it is stable," Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, said in Moscow, according to Agence France Press, citing Russian news agency reports.

Still, Chan underscored the need to closely monitor the virus' spread around the globe, adding that it was highly "unpredictable."

The WHO last week formally declared a pandemic, triggered by the rapid spread of the H1N1 virus across North America, Australia, South America, Europe and regions beyond.

What makes the H1N1 strain different from the typical seasonal flu is that about half of the people killed worldwide were young and previously healthy. In contrast, regular forms of the seasonal flu typically prove most lethal to the very young and the elderly.

Late last week, U.S. health officials said that the new H1N1 swine flu continued to spread in some parts of the country, especially in the Northeast, even though flu season is usually over by now.

"The U.S. will likely see [swine] flu activity continue throughout the summer," Dr. Daniel Jernigan, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC's Influenza Division, said during a press conference.

Even though H1N1 swine flu infections continue to be mild, for the most part, health-care workers need to do more to protect themselves from infection by the virus. A small sample of 26 health-care workers found that half became infected while at work, according to a report in the June 19 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"This includes one case where the exposure was to another ill health-care person," Dr. Michael Bell, the CDC's associate director for infection control, said during a June 18 press conference.

Bell said infection-control procedures need to be taken seriously.

Bell reiterated that the H1N1 swine flu continues to produce relatively mild symptoms in patients, and much has been learned about the precautions that health-care workers need to take since the virus first surfaced in April. "These lessons need to be applied so if something worse comes around we will be prepared to deal with it safely," he said.

U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
(As of June 19, 2009, 11:00 AM ET)
States and Territories* # of
confirmed and
probable cases
Deaths
Alabama
172
Alaska
23
Arkansas
18
Arizona
645
7 deaths
California
1245
8 deaths
Colorado
103
Connecticut
767
3 deaths
Delaware
223
Florida
562
1 death
Georgia
51
Hawaii
279
Idaho
47
Illinois
2526
8 deaths
Indiana
223
Iowa
92
Kansas
97
Kentucky
108
Louisiana
134
Maine
42
Maryland
263
Massachusetts
1270
1 death
Michigan
442
2 deaths
Minnesota
365
1 death
Mississippi
81
Missouri
46
1 death
Montana
44
Nebraska
81
Nevada
198
New Hampshire
187
New Jersey
603
2 deaths
New Mexico
155
New York
1300
24 deaths
North Carolina
125
North Dakota
41
Ohio
63
Oklahoma
112
1 death
Oregon
219
1 death
Pennsylvania
942
3 deaths
Rhode Island
94
1 death
South Carolina
83
South Dakota
17
Tennessee
121
Texas
2519
10 deaths
Utah
755
8 deaths
Vermont
43
Virginia
135
1 death
Washington
588
3 deaths
Washington, D.C.
33
West Virginia
77
Wisconsin
3008
1 death
Wyoming
63
Territories
Puerto Rico
18
Virgin Islands
1
TOTAL*(53)
21,449 cases
87 deaths
*includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin IslandsSource: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More information

For more on swine flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted: June 2009


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