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Although Swine Flu Cases Are Up, U.S. Officials Are Guardedly Optimistic
Date:5/4/2009

Mexico's health secretary said epidemic in his country seems to be waning

MONDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- The number of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States climbed late Sunday to 245 in 35 states, according to federal health officials. But, the revised numbers reflected catching up on a backlog of lab tests, and not a sudden rise in new infections, according to published reports.

The new count reflects streamlining in federal procedures and the results of tests by states, which have only recently begun confirming cases, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Associated Press reported.

Also Sunday, federal officials said they were guardedly optimistic that the swine flu isn't as dangerous as first feared. Still, they urged people to keep taking commonsense precautions to protect themselves, such as frequent handwashing and staying home if sick.

"The good news is when we look at this virus right now, we're not seeing some of the things in the virus that have been associated in the past with more severe flu. That's encouraging, but it doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet," said Dr. Richard Besser, acting head of the CDC, the AP reported.

What officials don't know is whether the never-before-seen virus -- a genetic mix of pig, bird and human flu strains -- will return, perhaps in a more dangerous form, when the regular flu season begins again late this year. Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere is about to begin, and U.S. authorities will watch how the swine flu circulates there over the coming months as they prepare the first vaccine and then decide whether to order large-scale production in the fall, the news service said.

The World Health Organization reported Monday that the disease continues to spread around the globe, with 20 countries reporting 985 confirmed cases. Mexico -- believed to be the source of the outbreak -
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