Swine flu spreads to 30 US states

May 4th, 2009 - 8:29 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 4 (DPA) The swine flu virus spread to 30 US states Sunday with a total of 226 confirmed cases, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
Health officials cautioned that the rise in cases had more to do with increased and better reporting of test results than a rapid spread of the virus.

While Mexico, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, claimed the virus was “declining” the World Health Organization (WHO) said the virus could return and the world might even witness a surge in the spring.

US Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union programme Sunday, warned that even if the outbreak wanes, “it could come back with greater force in the winter and fall, when we get into flu season.”

“So, this is no time for complacency,” she said. “We want to stay out ahead of this.”

WHO rejected an assertion by the CDC that the mutated swine flu virus A/H1N1 did not appear to have the same deadly power as the Spanish influenza virus of 1918 that killed more than 25 million people.

WHO director Michael Ryan, in countering this assertion, said that “these viruses are very unpredictable” and that it could still turn out that the swine flu could develop into a pandemic.

Ryan said that the WHO still had to assume that alarm level 6 - that of a pandemic - would be reached. At the moment, WHO has an alert status of 5.

“We have to suspect that phase 6 is reached but we have to hope that it is not reached,” he said, while also noting, “at this stage it would be unwise to suggest or to say it was spreading in an uncontrolled fashion.”

The US has 50 million doses of anti-viral medicine, has distributed about a quarter to 19 states with confirmed cases, and ordered 13 million more to replace them, officials said. The individual US states have an additional 23 million doses on hand, and

the federal government was sending 400,000 doses to Mexico.

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