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

flu virus -- officially designated H1N1 -- will do in the fall by monitoring what happens in the Southern Hemisphere, where the flu season there is just getting under way. "That will tell us a lot about whether the virus is changing, whether it's becoming more severe and what measures we might want to take in the fall," he said.

The World Health Organization reported Monday that the disease continues to spread around the globe, with 20 countries reporting 985 confirmed cases.

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.

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.

And that has led to a boom in sales of the two drugs in the United States, the AP reported Tuesday. Frightened by the prospects of the swine flu, Americans are snapping up the two antiviral medicines that treat the virus, whether they have it or not.

More than one-quarter of a million prescriptions for Tamiflu pills alone were filled at retail U.S pharmacies in the week ending last Friday. That's 34 times higher than the week before -- as the regular flu season wound down -- and more than double the peak of last winter's flu season, the news service said.

In a strange twist on Saturday, swine flu was discovered for the first time during this outbreak in pigs. WHO officials reported 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, even though its genetic makeup clearly points to pigs as the source
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