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

- heads the list of countries with 590 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection, including 25 deaths. The United States is next on the list with 226 confirmed human cases, including one death -- a 23-month-old Mexican boy who had traveled to Houston last month for medical treatment.

Currently, the WHO has labeled the outbreak a Phase 5 outbreak, meaning the disease is spreading throughout communities in at least two countries in one of WHO's six regions -- in this case the United States and Mexico. To reach Phase 6, the geographic spread of the disease would have to occur in at least one other country in another region.

The AP reported that Mexico's health secretary said on Sunday that the swine flu epidemic in his country apparently was waning, although global health officials said it was too soon to make such an assessment.

"The evolution of the epidemic is now in its declining phase," Jose Angel Cordova said during a news conference.

As with the previously tested strains of the swine flu virus, new testing has found that the pathogen remains susceptible to the two common antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, according to the CDC.

U.S. health officials were also cautiously optimistic on Sunday as they learned more about the outbreak of swine flu, officially designated H1N1 flu.

"There are several encouraging signs," Schuchat, interim deputy director for the CDC's science and public health program, said during a teleconference. "We heard reports that the H1N1 activity might be leveling off in Mexico -- it's too soon to be certain that that's the case."

"Today, I do think we do see some encouraging signs, but we are remaining cautious," Schuchat added. "We have a novel infectious disease -- a new H1N1 virus -- and it's too soon for us to know exactly how this is going to evolve or play out. We can't predict with certainty what the weeks and months ahead will look like. I don't think we are ou
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