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Swine Flu Waning, But Could Return
Date:12/1/2009

CDC urges H1N1 vaccination because pandemic's course remains unpredictable

TUESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. health official said Tuesday that H1N1 swine flu infections appear to be on the wane nationally, but many experts agreed the virus could return in force later this winter.

The flu is now widespread in 32 states -- down from 43 states the week before, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during an afternoon press conference. In addition, H1N1 vaccine supplies are increasing.

"We are going from a time where there was lots of disease and not enough vaccine to a time where disease is gradually decreasing, and we are having a steady increase in the amount of vaccine that is available," Frieden said.

While there are fewer new cases of the swine flu, it is still not gone, and it may return, he said.

Flu is highly unpredictable, Frieden said. Of the experts the CDC polled on the odds of another surge, about 50 percent said there would be one, and about 50 percent said there would not be one -- and one expert said "flip a coin."

Frieden noted that in the flu pandemic of 1957-1958, cases surged at the start of the school year and then waned, but surged again from December to February.

There is no way of telling whether or not that will happen this year, he said. But people should take advantage of the current lull in flu activity to get vaccinated just in case the flu comes back.

Despite a decline in the number of cases, "we are far from out of the woods," Frieden said.

Right now, close to 70 million doses of vaccine are available, with more on the way, and most people should be able to get vaccinated this month, he said.

And there was one more piece of good news. Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., which last week reported four cases of very ill patients with H1N1 that did not respo
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