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Swine Flu Appears Mild And Schools Should Stay Open, U.S. Officials Say
Date:5/5/2009

s 44 states, CDC's acting director Dr. Richard Besser said during the teleconference. "There are over 700 probable cases and 403 confirmed cases. The confirmed cases are in 38 states," he said. There has so far been one U.S. death linked to H1N1 flu -- that of a 23-month-old Mexican boy who was being cared for at a Texas hospital.

On Monday, federal health officials said that much of the recent bump upward in cases was due to health workers catching up on a backlog of lab tests, and not a sudden rise in new infections.

Still, "we are continuing to see virus transmission and expect to continue to see virus transmission both around the United States and around the globe," Besser said. "We would expect to see cases in all states over time and we we will see more hospitalizations and it is likely we will see additional deaths," he said.

However, a closer look at the flu in Mexico has revealed that it is really not very different from the flu seen in the United States, Besser added. "We are seeing more cases in Mexico of the milder disease," Besser said.

At another press conference on Monday, Besser told reporters that "we are not out of the woods," but he added that "we are seeing a lot of encouraging signs."

Among the encouraging signs: "So far the severity of illness we are seeing in this country is very similar to what we see with seasonal flu," Besser said. "And that's encouraging information."

In addition, some of the initial lab tests are heartening, Besser said. "The lack of some of the factors that have been associated with more severe disease in previous pandemics, we are not seeing those."

Testing for the virus is also becoming faster, Besser said. "We have distributed test kits to every state and this will allow for more rapid diagnosis at the state level," he said.

And, he added, "The situation in Mexico is encouraging. It appears that things are leveling off in Mexico."


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