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WHO Rethinks Swine Flu Pandemic Criteria

WHO Says It Will Consider Signals of Virus Threat to People, Not Just Spread of Virus
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Latest Swine Flu Numbers

The WHO today reported that it has received reports of 11,168 people in 42 countries with lab-confirmed H1N1 swine flu infection, including 86 people who have died. 

The CDC today said that it has received reports of 6,552 people in 48 U.S. states with confirmed or probable swine flu, including nine people who have died.

The CDC estimates that as many as 100,000 people in the U.S. have the swine flu virus. The number of lab-confirmed cases "may represent about one in 20 [cases] of actual illness," Anne Schuchat, MD, interim deputy director for the CDC's science and health program, said in a press conference today.

Schuchat said that nationally, the number of cases "seems to be falling" but is rising or still high in some areas. She cautioned against becoming complacent and urged people to keep washing their hands, cover their coughs or sneezes, and stay home when sick.

"We don't want people to think we're out of the woods yet," said Schuchat, noting that it's not clear yet if the virus will stay in circulation this summer or worsen in the fall.

In other swine flu news, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that she is directing about $1 billion in existing funds to prepare to make an H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

That money will fund clinical studies that will be done this summer and for commercial-scale production of two potential vaccine ingredients for the pre-pandemic influenza stockpile.

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