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Swine flu deaths climb, raising next-wave fears


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Interesting article I found. I highlighted one part that I thought was particularly interesting.




updated 8:55 a.m. MT, Fri., Sept . 4, 2009

The World Health Organization says at least 625 people have been reported dead from swine flu in the last week. That's more than 20 percent of the 2,837 known deaths since the novel virus first emerged in Mexico and the United States earlier this year.


Most of the deaths are in the Western Hemisphere, though the disease is in full-blown global epidemic mode.


WHO said Friday that laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease have now reached 254,206.


Spokesman Gregory Hartl says the figure far understates the actual number of cases because countries are no longer required to report each infection as the caseload is so high.


The United Nations agency is monitoring the strain to detect any mutation which might signal that it has become more deadly. And say the number of deaths is growing proportionately to the increase in number of infected people.


"There is no sense that the virus has mutated or changed in any sense," Hartl told a news briefing. "We are continuing to see increased number of deaths because we are seeing many, many more cases."


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The virus could eventually infect 2 billion people, or a third of the world's population, according to WHO estimates.


"In the best case scenario we have today, we will still have a moderate virus that is projected to cause several million deaths," Dr. Tammam Aloudat, senior health officer at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a separate news briefing.


"Which means that even in the best case scenario, we do have an emergency on our hands, an emergency of a scale different from what we have seen before in the modern era," he said as the federation launched an information campaign to help the poorest communities reduce infection through simple hygiene measures.


Drugmakers are racing to develop vaccines amid experts' warnings that a "second wave" of the virus is approaching as weather cools in the northern hemisphere and the traditional flu season starts.



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