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Despite 2nd U.S. Death, CDC Says Don't Close Schools for Swine Flu

Swine Flu Milder Than Feared, but More Deaths Expected
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Schools Allowed to Reopen continued...

"And parents, don't turn around and send that child to the mall. This is about keeping children home until the virus can't be spread any further," Sebelius said.

Teachers, too will have more responsibility. They're asked to be on the lookout for kids with signs of illness and to send home any child who shows signs of the flu.

Ironically, the continued spread of H1N1 flu is one reason behind the softer CDC advice. If school outbreaks were the nexus of flu spread in the community, it might make sense to close them. But Richard Besser, MD, acting CDC director, said that school-related cases simply reflect H1N1 flu cases already in the community.

"We know that in communities where they had cases in schools, they already had cases in the community -- so trying to stop the spread of the virus by school closing is not effective," Besser said at the news conference.

As of today, the CDC says the U.S. has seen 1,105 probable and confirmed cases of H1N1 swine flu in 44 states. So far, there have been 35 known hospitalizations and one death in the U.S. Most cases have been in young people: The median age of cases is 16, and 62% of confirmed cases have been in people under age 18.

All 50 states can expect to see H1N1 swine flu, Besser said, and the CDC fully expects to learn of more hospitalizations and more deaths.

Besser also noted that the CDC is shipping swine-flu test kits to the states, which will allow them to catch up on a backlog of suspected cases. This means there will be a spike in case numbers as the backlog is reduced.

And Besser stressed that we aren't yet out of the woods.

"Over the last four days we saw exponential growth in our understanding of what is going on, but we still are in a period of major uncertainty," he said. "Where this is going to go is hard to say."

H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine

Sebelius today confirmed that production of this fall's seasonal flu vaccine is already under way and will not be delayed until an H1N1 swine flu vaccine can be added. Instead, manufacturers have agreed to go full speed ahead with seasonal vaccine production.

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