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Person-to-Person Transmission Now Common Route for Swine Flu in U.S.
Date:5/8/2009

reported that Canadian officials are investigating the first suspected death linked to swine flu in that country, an elderly woman in northern Alberta.

At the Thursday press conference, Besser said the CDC plans to stop concentrating on reporting numbers of cases and start concentrating on where flu activity is most pronounced in the country. "At some point reporting on individual cases no longer has value from a public health perspective, but knowing where in the country we are seeing large amounts of flu activity does remain important," he added.

Besser also addressed two other significant topics at the teleconference:

  • The H1N1 swine flu, thought to be a new virus, shows similarities to strains that first infected people in the United States back in 2005.
  • People may be holding "swine flu parties," where individuals knowingly expose themselves to someone with the flu, in the belief that gaining some immunity now may offer greater protection next winter if the swine flu returns in a more virulent form. Besser dismissed the idea as a "big mistake."

On Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine released early a study by CDC researchers that said 11 cases of infection with a swine flu virus similar to that involved in the current outbreak have been recorded in the United States since 2005. These viral strains were so-called "triple-reassortant" viruses, meaning that -- like the current H1N1 strain -- they contained genes from bird, pig and human viruses.

All but two of the cases involved people who had direct or indirect contact with pigs, but "in another patient, human-to-human transmission was suspected," wrote a team led by Dr. Lyn Finelli of the CDC's Influenza Division. The patients were typically young -- with an average age of 10 years -- and four of the 11 cases were severe enough to require hospitalization, with two needing invasive mechanical ventilation. Four patie
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