H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Cases top 10,000, businesses activating pandemic plans, vaccine news, military's steps, NYC school closings

World's novel H1N1 cases top 10,000
The global number of novel H1N1 cases rose to 10,243 in 41 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The count includes 3,648 cases and 72 deaths from Mexico, 5,469 cases and 6 deaths in the United States as of yesterday, 496 cases and 1 death in Canada, and 9 cases and 1 death in Costa Rica. Greece was the only new country added to the list, with a report of one case.
[WHO update 34]

US case and fatality totals rise
The count of confirmed and probable novel H1N1 cases in the United States grew to 5,710, of which 8 were fatal, from 48 states and the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today. No new states reported confirmed cases. The newly reported deaths of a 44-year-old St Louis man and a 57-year-old Arizona woman were included in the fatality total.
[Current CDC numbers]

Many global companies have activated pandemic plans
More than half (55%) of global companies in a survey by a business association said they have activated pandemic response plans because of the H1N1 epidemic, according to Medical News Today. The survey covered 121 members of the Conference Board, a global nonprofit association of businesses. Almost all the companies said they were making special efforts to provide pandemic information to employees, and 81% said they have encouraged workers who feel sick to stay home.
[Medical News Today report]

Novel flu may lead to earlier seasonal flu vaccination campaign
If US officials decide to launch an H1N1 immunization campaign later this year, seasonal flu vaccination efforts may start earlier than usual, a CDC flu expert said at a news briefing today. Dr. Dan Jernigan said the CDC estimates that an H1N1 vaccine will become available sometime in the fall. "If possible, we do want to have earlier rollout of seasonal vaccine simply for that reason, to make it easier for an additional vaccine if that is the ultimate policy," he said.
[May 20 CDC briefing transcript]

Glaxo offers 50 million vaccine doses to the WHO
At a meeting of United Nations officials yesterday, GlaxoSmithKline offered to donate 50 million doses of a pandemic vaccine to the WHO for use in poor countries if needed, a company spokesman told the Chicago Tribune. However, the offer has not been finalized by Glaxo or the WHO. Vaccine makers have voiced a commitment to providing doses to poor countries but gave few specifics at yesterday's meeting.
[May 20 Chicago Tribune article]

Flu outbreak tests military pandemic plans
The novel flu outbreak, which launched from North America, wasn't the overseas threat that the US military envisioned when it prepared its pandemic plan, according to details that surfaced in briefing documents obtained by the Associated Press. According to the closely guarded plan, in catastrophic circumstances the military would help law enforcement enforce quarantines, limit travel, and protect government buildings. The six-phase plan also calls for measures to protect the armed services.

Taiwan reports first H1N1 case; Australia has 4 more
Taiwan reported its first novel H1N1 case, in a 52-year-old foreign physician who had been in the United States several months and arrived in Taiwan via Hong Kong on May 18, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Meanwhile, Australia reported four more cases, all in people who had recently been in the United States, raising the country's total to five. Three cases were in young brothers from Melbourne; the fourth was in a 28-year-old Sydney woman, AFP reported.

Test is negative in NYC child's death as more schools close
New York City health officials said a 16-month-old boy who died May 18 of suspected H1N1 flu tested negative for the virus, according to the Associated Press (AP). But samples were sent to the CDC for further testing. Meanwhile, City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden recommended closing three more schools as of today because of high rates of flu-like illness, bringing the number of closed schools in the city to 21.

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