H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Case numbers climb, US deaths, Japanese school closings, mask shortages

May 19, 2009

World's novel H1N1 cases near 10,000
The global number of novel H1N1 cases climbed to 9,830 cases in 40 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The count includes 3,648 cases and 72 deaths from Mexico, 5.123 cases and 5 deaths in the United States (as of yesterday), 496 cases and 1 death in Canada, and 9 cases and 1 death in Costa Rica. No new countries were added to the list.
[WHO update 33]

US novel flu cases rise steadily
The number of confirmed and probable novel H1N1 cases in the United States grew to 5,469, of which 6 were fatal, from 48 states and the District of Columbia, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today. No new states reported confirmed cases. Alaska, West Virginia, and Wyoming remain the only states that have reported no cases. The May 17 death of a New York man is included in today's CDC total.
[Current CDC numbers]

Flu role suspected in deaths of St Louis man, New York child
Officials from St Louis County, Mo., announced that a 44-year-old man who recently traveled to Mexico and was diagnosed as having a novel H1N1 infection died today, the Associated Press (AP) reported. An autopsy is under way to determine if an underlying condition contributed to his death, though the man appeared to be otherwise healthy. Meanwhile, other media outlets reported that New York City officials are investigating a possible novel flu link in the death of a 16-month-old boy.
[May 19 AP story]

Japan shutters 2,400 more schools to slow virus spread
Japanese officials have closed more than 4,400 schools in two prefectures that have reported dozens of novel H1N1 cases, up from about 2,000 closures reported yesterday, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The affected areas are Osaka and Hyogo, in the central part of Honshu, Japan's main island. The country now has 193 confirmed cases, and experts said the virus has probably already spread to Tokyo, the world's most populated urban area.
[May 19 AFP story]

US mask, respirator stockpiles fall short
The US stockpile contains only 39 million surgical masks, far short of the 27 billion federal officials say would be needed in a serious influenza pandemic, Time magazine reported. The nation's supply of 80 million respirators also falls short of the government's 3 billion estimate. Also, most of the masks are made in Mexico or China, and it's unclear if the few US-based companies could supply enough for a serious outbreak. The CDC has said the benefits of wearing surgical masks are unclear.
[May 19 Time magazine story]

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