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Swine Flu Outbreak Not a Pandemic at This Point
Date:5/3/2009

Schuchat, interim deputy director for the CDC's science and public health program, said during a teleconference Sunday. "We heard reports that the H1N1 activity might be leveling off in Mexico -- it's too soon to be certain that that's the case."

"Today, I do think we do see some encouraging signs, but we are remaining cautious," Schuchat added. "We have a novel infectious disease -- a new H1N1 virus -- and it's too soon for us to know exactly how this is going to evolve or play out. We can't predict with certainty what the weeks and months ahead will look like. I don't think we are out of the woods yet."

"It's good news that we've only confirmed one death and we have 30 hospitalizations, but it's too soon to say the extent of this disease," she said during the teleconference. "But from what I know about influenza, I do expect more cases, more severe cases, and I do expect more deaths, and I am particularly concerned about what will happen in the fall."

Schuchat noted that the country needs to be ready for next year's seasonal flu, as well as be prepared for what this new virus might do in the fall. "We are working actively and aggressively to be one step ahead," she said. "We don't know if the virus will come back in the fall harder than it did right now."

There are 30 hospitalizations so far, and some of the cases are severe, Schuchat said. Most of those hospitalized are adolescents and young adults, she noted.

Since schools are the focus of many of the outbreaks, the CDC has issued new recommendations for school closings.

Because children may shed the virus longer than adults, the agency is now recommending that affected schools remain closed for two weeks instead of one, Schuchat noted during a teleconference on Saturday.

The U.S. Education Department has said that more than 430 schools had closed, affecting about 245,000 children, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Nancy Cox,
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