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Swine Flu Rivals 1957 Pandemic’s Severity, Study Says (Update2)
May 11 (Bloomberg) -- The swine flu strain that has sickened people in 30 countries rivals the severity of the 1957 “Asian flu” pandemic that was as much as four times deadlier than typical seasonal flu, scientists said.
About four of 1,000 people infected with the new H1N1 strain in Mexico by late April died, according to a study published today in the journal Science that was led by Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London. The 1957 pandemic killed about 2 million people, while seasonal flu epidemics cause 250,000 to 500,000 deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization.
Scientists are trying to determine whether swine flu will mutate and become more deadly as it spreads to the Southern Hemisphere and back. The virus is more contagious than seasonal flu, the Geneva-based WHO said today in a statement on its Web site. A “moderate” pandemic like the 1957 Asian flu could kill 14.2 million people and shave 2 percent from the global economy in the first year, the World Bank said in October.
“While substantial uncertainty remains, clinical severity appears less than that seen in 1918 but comparable with that seen in 1957,” the Science study authors wrote.
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Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
Key factor will be lethality of infection going forward, experts say
Posted May 11, 2009
MONDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- The current swine flu epidemic does have pandemic potential and is likely to be comparable to other 20th century pandemics, at least in terms of its spread, a new expert analysis concludes.
The analysis also suggests that the true number of -- largely unreported -- swine flu infections in Mexico, the outbreak's epicenter, may have already reached 32,000 by the end of April. The World Health Organization's official tally for Mexico currently stands at 1,626 confirmed cases.
The situation could be similar in the United States. During a Monday afternoon news conference, Dr. Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for science and public health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the 2,618 confirmed cases in the U.S. are likely just the tip of the iceberg. Many people who become ill don't seek medical attention and are never tested for this strain of flu, so "the numbers we are reporting are a minority of the actual infections that are occurring in the country," she said.
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Swine flu spreading too fast to count, CDC says
Confirmed cases are only the ‘tip of the iceberg,’ health official says
3:42 p.m. ET, Mon., May 11, 2009
Swine flu is spreading so far and fast in the U.S. that state health officials may soon stop counting individual cases, a federal health official said Monday.
The novel H1N1 virus accounted for 40 percent of flu viruses logged in the U.S. in the past week and helped propel an uptick in overall flu-like illnesses, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a deputy director with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think the cases we’re confirming are the tip of the iceberg here,” Schuchat said in a press briefing Monday.
Scientists Experiment with Vaccinations in GMO Corn
“We’re trying to figure out which genes from the swine influenza virus to incorporate into corn so those genes, when expressed, would produce protein,” said Hank Harris, professor in animal science and one of the researchers on the project. “When the pig consumes that corn, it would serve as a vaccine.”