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Scope of Swine Flu Outbreak in Mexico Might Be Smaller Than Thought
Date:5/2/2009

And current H1N1 strain lacks "virulent characteristics" of deadly 1918 virus, CDC notes

SATURDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- The scope of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico might not be as great as once thought, test results released Friday in Mexico show.

The New York Times reported that only 397 of 908 suspected cases that were tested turned out to actually be the H1N1 virus. Sixteen of those people have died.

Mexico had reported about 2,500 suspected cases as of Friday, but the real numbers could be half of that if further testing follows the same pattern, the Times reported.

"Apparently the rate of infection is not as widespread as we might have thought," Jose Angel Cordova, Mexico's health minister, told the newspaper. The materials needed for the test were provided to Mexico by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC officials declined to say what the new numbers might mean, the Times reported.

"We are continuously assessing new information, but it is still too early to draw conclusions about the extent of the spread of this new virus in Mexico or the severity of disease caused by it," Dr. Nancy Cox, chief of the influenza section, told the Times via an e-mail.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States has now reached 141 in 19 states, federal health officials reported Friday.

"That's up eight states since yesterday," Dr. Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's science and public health program, said during a teleconference on Friday. "More and more communities are being affected, and more people are being directly impacted by the H1N1 novel virus we are seeing this year. Cases continue to occur."

Cox had some welcome news on the nature of the virus itself. She said during the teleconference that a preliminary analysis of the H1
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