April 28, 2009 -- At least 66 people in the U.S. have been sickened by swine influenza (swine flu), including five people who have been hospitalized, according to health officials.
The CDC today reported 64 lab-confirmed cases of swine flu:
- New York City: 45 cases
- California: 10 cases (including three hospitalized patients)
- Texas: 6 cases (including two hospitalized patients)
- Kansas: 2 cases
- Ohio: 1 case
The CDC's count doesn't include an eleventh California case confirmed by California's health department and another case in Indiana, confirmed by Indiana's health department.
The CDC updates its case count once a day, so there may be some lag time between a state's report and the CDC's daily tally, notes Richard Besser, MD, the CDC's acting director.
Despite recent hospitalizations, cases in the U.S. are still "milder" than those reported in Mexico, according to Besser.
But that could change. "I fully expect that we will see deaths from this infection," Besser said. He pointed out that ordinary seasonal flu can be deadly, killing about 36,000 people in a typical flu season.
Besser said that the median age of swine flu patients is 16, with patient ages ranging from 7 to 54. The earliest lab-confirmed case in the U.S. began on March 28 and the most recent one began on April 24. The virus appears to incubate for two to seven days, which is a typical time frame for a flu virus, Besser notes.
'Hundreds' More Possible Cases
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today said that "hundreds" more students in New York City may have swine flu.
Those cases, which haven't been confirmed, mainly include students at Saint Francis Preparatory School in Queens, where there have already been confirmed cases of swine flu.
Bloomberg says five other "probable" cases have been found in New York City, including a boy in the Bronx, who is recovering at a hospital.
But Bloomberg says all patients in New York with swine flu are improving and that so far swine flu is following the pattern of normal seasonal influenza -- "nothing worse, so far."
South Carolina reports "probable" swine flu in two high school students. South Carolina health officials have sent samples from those students to the CDC for further testing.
Lawmakers Seek Funding for Swine Flu Vaccine
In Washington, D.C., lawmakers on Capitol Hill today said they would seek more than a billion dollars in emergency funding to help respond to a potential swine flu pandemic.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the health appropriations subcommittee, said the money would go toward speeding development and production of a swine flu vaccine and to purchasing and distributing antiviral drugs and medical equipment to states.
Scientists have already taken the first step toward creating a swine flu vaccine.
Anthony Fauci, MD, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, today said the CDC has already sent samples to vaccine manufacturers that would allow the companies to begin growing them to produce flu shots.
"It's moving very rapidly," Fauci said. Still, creating a new vaccine takes months.
Global Swine Flu News
Earlier today, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 79 lab-confirmed cases of swine flu worldwide, including two countries -- New Zealand and the U.K. -- that have reported their first cases of swine flu.
But today's WHO figure -- 79 cases -- doesn't reflect today's updated case count from the U.S., and it doesn't include two cases in Israel mentioned in media reports.
Mexico continues to be the only country where severe swine flu has been seen, and the reason for that still isn't clear, WHO officials note.
WHO officials also said they have no plans to refer to swine influenza (or swine flu) by another term. But Besser says the CDC is considering a name change, because even though "swine flu" is correct, some people are taking that to mean that it's linked to pork. But pork and other foods from pigs are not involved in swine flu; you can't catch swine flu from food.
Reporter Todd Zwillich contributed to this report.