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Public health authorities acknowledge their worst fears about the new virus have not materialized. But no one's officially saying it's time to relax. And experts worry that people will become too complacent and tune out the warnings if the virus returns in a more dangerous form in the fall.
"People are taking a sigh of relief too soon," said Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Besser said the outbreak in the United States appears to be less severe than was first feared. But the virus is still spreading and its future potential as a killer is not clearly understood.
I'm afraid that people are going to say, 'Ah, we've dodged a bullet. We don't need to do that,'" Besser said. "The thing that's keeping me up right now is that feeling of dodging the bullet," he added.
"I don't know anyone who has it. I haven't met anyone who knows anyone who contracted it,"
"Swine flu is just another strain of flu. People get the flu. I guess you have to call it a pandemic when it's a widespread virus, but I don't think the severity of it is all that concerning," said Heyl, 43.
Schools shut down, idling even healthy kids and forcing parents to stay home from work; colleges scaled back or even canceled graduation ceremonies; a big Cinco de Mayo celebration in Chicago was canned; face masks and hand sanitizers sold out — all because of an outbreak that seems no worse than a mild flu season.
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Swine Flu Ancestors May Protect Elderly, Experts Say (Update1)
May 7 (Bloomberg) -- Swine flu evolved from human viruses circulating in pigs for more than a decade, a finding that may explain why people in their 30s and 40s are getting sicker than the elderly in the U.S. and Mexico, scientists said today.
Older people may have some immunity against swine flu because of exposure to similar viruses as long as 70 years ago, before the virus’s ancestors switched to infecting pigs, said Robert Belshe, a St. Louis University influenza expert, who wrote a commentary on studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The percentage of people ages 30 to 44 who are hospitalized from swine flu is higher than in seasonal flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That suggests younger adults may have less immune protection against swine flu than older people, Belshe said.
“They may have been infected with similar viruses in the 1930s and 1940s,” Belshe said today in a telephone interview. “Their exposure to seasonal viruses may be giving them some protection.”
Tomorrow, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will join other Administration officials and the Univision Network for a Latino town hall meeting to listen to the community’s concerns and inform the public about the government’s efforts to control the impact of the H1N1 virus. Univision Anchor Edna Schmidt will moderate the Spanish-language town hall meeting, an unprecedented effort to engage our nation’s largest minority group, and to make sure that accurate information critical to the public’s health and safety reaches every corner of the country.
Asian countries will increase stockpiles of medicine to fight the H1N1 flu virus and look at ways to share essential supplies in the event of an emergency, according to a statement drafted for a meeting on Friday.
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Dead Albertan being tested for swine flu
May 7, 2009 11:02 PM
CALGARY — Health officials are testing a deceased patient from northern Alberta for swine influenza, sources told Canwest News Service on Thursday night.
Results from the tests were not yet available, but if the patient did have the influenza strain, it would be the first time someone with the disease has died in Canada.
Media reports suggested the patient was an elderly woman.
Russia lifted a ban on five US states but added Illinois to its blacklist.
Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova announced two more dead and 90 more cases, bringing the total to 44 dead among the 1,160 infected. But the number of cases peaked last week and was waning, he added.