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

t of the woods yet.

"It's good news that we've only confirmed one death and we have 30 hospitalizations, but it's too soon to say the extent of this disease," she said. "But from what I know about influenza, I do expect more cases, more severe cases, and I do expect more deaths, and I am particularly concerned about what will happen in the fall."

Schuchat noted that the United States needs to be ready for next year's seasonal flu, as well as be prepared for what this new virus might do in the fall. "We are working actively and aggressively to be one step ahead," she said. "We don't know if the virus will come back in the fall harder than it did right now."

There are 30 hospitalizations so far, and some of the cases are severe, Schuchat said. Most of those hospitalized are adolescents and young adults, she noted.

Since schools are the focus of many of the outbreaks, the CDC has issued new recommendations for school closings.

Because children may shed the virus longer than adults, the agency is now recommending that affected schools remain closed for two weeks instead of one, Schuchat said during a teleconference on Saturday.

The U.S. Education Department has said that more than 430 schools had closed, affecting about 245,000 children.

Nancy Cox, chief of the influenza division of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, did deliver some welcome news on the nature of the virus itself on Friday. She said that a preliminary analysis of the H1N1 strain found that it lacks certain "virulent characteristics" that made the 1918 flu pandemic strain so deadly.

In a strange twist on Saturday, swine flu was discovered for the first time during this outbreak in pigs. WHO officials reported on the organization's Web site that the virus had been detected in sick pigs on a farm in Alberta, Canada.

Until now, it was not known whether the virus could infect pigs
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