SWINE FLU BREAKING NEWS: Case counts, states reduce testing, European outbreaks, age range, quarantines in China

May 5, 2009

The global case count for the novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus reached 1,490 cases and 30 deaths today, up from 1,085 cases with 26 deaths yesterday, Dr. Keiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization (WHO) reported at a briefing. He said the increase represents a combination of laboratories catching up on testing and continued spread of the virus. The WHO's latest online update showed cases in 21 countries. The hardest-hit countries were Mexico, 590 cases; the United States, 286 cases yesterday; Canada, 140; Spain, 54, and the United Kingdom, 18. [WHO update]

The US count rose to 403 confirmed cases in 38 states as of this morning, up from 286 cases yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. The death toll remained at 1. New York had 90 cases, followed by Illinois with 82, California, 49, Texas, 41, and Delaware, 20. [CDC swine flu page]

Some states, including Minnesota, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, are cutting back on testing for the new flu virus. Minnesota said it would test only hospitalized patients, sick healthcare workers, and those who seek treatment from providers involved in an influenza surveillance system. North Carolina and New Hampshire announced similar moves, according to newspaper reports. Officials said the virus is behaving more like seasonal influenza, and its wide geographic extent makes the identification of individual cases less useful in tracking the epidemic.

Fukuda said the WHO is not yet seeing clear signs of community transmission in Europe, although Spain had 54 cases and the United Kingdom had 18 as of early today. He said the cases in Spain are related to travel, while the UK has some travel-linked cases in schools.

Most patients continue to be young, for reasons that are yet clear, though it may be because younger people tend to travel more, Fukuda reported. He also said that many of the patients who died were young, but he couldn't give an age range for the fatal cases.

A US embassy official in Beijing said four US citizens were quarantined in China because of the new flu virus, though two have been released, according to an Associated Press/CBS News report. Embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson said the Americans either had flu-like symptoms or were close to cases of interest to Chinese authorities. Also quarantined in China were 29 students and a professor from the University of Montreal, none of whom were sick, the story said. [CBS/AP report]

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