In the Southern Hemisphere, where it is winter now, seasonal flu and the new H1N1 swine flu continue to spread, Schuchat said.
The good news is that "specimens we have collected have not changed. They are still the same strain we are seeing here, meaning that the vaccine we are working on is directed against the strain that is still active both here in the U.S. and in Southern Hemisphere countries," she said.
Also, the CDC, in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, cited four children in Texas who developed neurological complications from encephalitis, associated with the H1N1 flu. Two of them also had seizures, but all recovered and had no lasting neurological effects after leaving the hospital.
"This is a reminder that seizure, encephalitis and other neurologic complications can occur in the setting of influenza," she said.
Although less severe in summer, the H1N1 swine flu continues to spread, especially in summer camps and schools, Schuchat said.
Reacting to reports that some camps are giving children the antiviral drug Tamiflu in hopes of preventing the virus, Schuchat advised against this. Camps should follow the CDC's guidelines on protecting campers from the flu, she said.
Giving antiviral medications in hopes of providing a general immunity can increase the odds that the virus will become resistant to the drugs, Schuchat said. To date, five cases of the H1N1 flu have proved resistant to Tamiflu, she noted. So far, this resistant strain has not been passed on to anyone else, she said.
The CDC also reported Friday that there have been 43,771 confirmed cases of H1N1 infection and 302 deaths in the United States, although officials believe more than 1 million Americans have been stricken with swine flu. The reason for the disparity: The virus continues to produce mild symptoms and pati
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