Many cases in the Northeast; health-care workers urged to take greater precautions
THURSDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- While flu season is usually over by now, the new H1N1 swine flu continues to spread in some parts of the country, especially in the Northeast, U.S. health officials said Thursday.
"The U.S. will likely see [swine] flu activity continue throughout the summer," Dr. Daniel Jernigan, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Influenza Division, said during a press conference.
The virus' spread has slowed in most parts of the country, Jernigan said, but new cases continue to be seen at higher rates in New York and Massachusetts, with more than 1,000 confirmed and probable cases in each state.
There have been more than 17,800 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu in the United States, including about 1,600 people who've been hospitalized and 44 people who have died. Based on these numbers, the CDC estimates that about 7 percent of people in areas currently experiencing an outbreak have flu symptoms, Jernigan said.
The previously-undiscovered flu, which first surfaced in April, continues to produce relatively mild symptoms, with patients recovering fairly quickly, officials said.
Still, health-care workers need to do more to protect themselves from infection by the virus. A small sample of 26 health-care workers found that half became infected while at work, according to a report in the June 19 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"This includes one case where the exposure was to another ill health-care person," Dr. Michael Bell, the CDC's associate director for infection control, said during Thursday's press conference.
Bell said infection-control procedures need to be taken seriously. A first step is to quickly identify flu patients when they come into a hospital. "This is essential. Consistent applicati
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