H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Cases top 4,500, Deaths in US & Costa Rica, first Chinese case, Tamiflu issues

May 11, 2009

WHO's novel H1N1 flu case count tops 4,500
The global number of people infected with the novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus rose to 4,694 from 30 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The count includes 1,626 cases and 48 deaths in Mexico and the 2,532 cases and 3 deaths reported in the United States as of yesterday. Canada has reported 284 cases and one death. [WHO update 25]

US case count rises to 2,600
The US H1N1 case count reached 2,600 cases and 3 deaths in 44 states today, an increase of 68 since yesterday's update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today. The number of states reporting confirmed cases stayed the same. [CDC swine flu page]

Washington man is third US novel H1N1 fatality
Officials from the Washington State Department of Health (WSDH) announced on May 9 that a man in his 30s from Snohomish County died of complications from a novel H1N1 flu infection, raising the US death toll from the disease to three. The man had pneumonia and an underlying cardiac condition. The other two US deaths occurred in Texas. [May 9 WSDH press release]

China reports first H1N1 case
Authorities in China announced that a 30-year-old Chinese man who flew home after attending college in Missouri has the country's first novel H1N1 case, and they are locating and quarantining passengers who traveled on two flights with him, Bloomberg News reported today. He reportedly had a fever and cough during a flight from Beijing to his home in Chengdu in Sichuan province. So far 130 passengers from 21 provinces have been quarantined at their local health facilities. [May 11 Bloomberg news story]

Costa Rican case marks first H1N1 death south of Mexico
Costa Rica reported that a 53-year-old man died of a novel H1N1 flu infection, marking the first death from the disease outside of Mexico, the United States, and Canada, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The health ministry said the man had underlying health conditions, including diabetes and chronic lung disease. So far officials don't know how the man became infected, because he had not recently traveled out of the country.

EU extends Tamiflu shelf life
The European Medicines Agency, the European Union's pharmaceutical regulatory agency, on May 9 extended the shelf life of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) by 2 years to address potential shortages spurred by novel H1N1 flu outbreaks, the Financial Times reported. The extension increases the drug's shelf life to 7 years.

Critics say WHO should push manufacture of generic oseltamivir
Some critics say the WHO is doing too little to promote the production of generic oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in the face of the H1N1 threat, according to an AP report. Groups such as the Third World Network say the agency should order supplies of the generic drug or encourage poor countries to do so, the story said, noting that World Trade Organization rules allow countries to override patent rights in a health crisis. A WHO official said the agency would work to obtain additional antivirals for needy countries, either through donations or through purchase at the lowest possible prices.

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