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May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Dozens of swine flu cases in Japan may prompt the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic, a former WHO adviser said, spurring demand for vaccines to fight the contagion.
Japan’s health ministry said 176 people have the virus, formally known as A/H1N1, after 33 new infections were confirmed today. Community-wide outbreaks in a region outside North America would prompt the WHO to raise its pandemic alert to the highest level, said Hitoshi O#ani, the former head of the agency’s Western Pacific region.
“Japan is definitely having human-to-human transmission,” O#ani said yesterday in a telephone interview. “The WHO will have to take the Japanese cases into consideration when deciding whether to raise the pandemic alert.”
Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon may broker an accord at a meeting starting at noon in Geneva today with executives from drugmakers such as Sanofi-Aventis SA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc to ensure developing countries have access to pandemic vaccines.
The outbreak worldwide extended to 8,829 infections in 40 nations. Health officials from more than 190 countries meeting for the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week are debating whether swine flu is spreading widely enough to upgrade the threat to level 6, and declare it the first pandemic since 1968.
“If WHO gets evidence that this is going to happen, then there will be strong recommendations that we should move forward with producing a vaccine against this virus,” said Lance Jennings, a clinical virologist at New Zealand’s University of Otago, who advises the country on pandemic preparations.
Governments are already trying to secure supplies before a pandemic is declared. The U.K., France, Belgium and Finland agreed to buy about 158 million shots from London-based Glaxo and Baxter International Inc. of Deerfield, Illinois, according to statements last week from Glaxo and the U.K. government.
“The H1N1 virus is not going away despite what you may have heard,” said Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for science and public health for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “It’s still circulating in the U.S. and people are continuing to get sick, to get hospitalized and to die.”
South Korea and China reported new cases today and Japan’s education ministry asked 4,043 schools, from kindergartens to universities, to close.
Originally posted by ecoparity
I had a sore throat, felt cold, temp 1 degree low, headache, coughing worse and everything tastes funny. I felt like a truck had hit me .
Originally posted by Hx3_1963
5 LI school districts with swine flu cases to stay open
Influenza A(H1N1) - update 33
19 May 2009 -- As of 06:00 GMT, 19 May 2009, 40 countries have officially reported 9830 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 79 deaths.
Originally posted by lunieri
Five patients were pregnant. Two of these developed complications, including spontaneous abortion and premature rupture of the membranes; the fetuses were at 13 and 35 weeks gestation, respectively.