As the outbreak continues, the CDC continues to study various aspects of the health threat to gain a better understanding of the virus, how it is spread, as well as better ways to test for it, Besser said. The research under way includes: finding a rapid diagnostic test; understanding "viral shedding" (how long people can pass the virus to others); determining how the virus is transmitted in households; and learning how well antiviral drugs work.
Testing has found that the swine flu virus remains susceptible to two common antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, according to the CDC.
On Tuesday, U.S. health officials said the outbreak of swine flu appears similar to the seasonal flu in its severity, so schools across the nation should remain open and any schools that did close should reopen.
The death earlier this week of a woman in Texas, the first U.S. resident to die from the swine flu, "reminds us that influenza can be a very serious infection, and it's one we need to continue to take very seriously," Besser said Wednesday.
According to published reports, Texas health officials said the death of 33-year-old schoolteacher Judy Trunnell was apparently not directly caused by H1N1 swine flu, noting that she also had unspecified "chronic underlying conditions."
Last week, a 23-month-old boy from Mexico, who also had underlying health problems, died from the swine flu illness in a Houston hospital. He was the first fatality in the United States from the current swine flu outbreak.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that as many as 2 billion people around the globe could become infected by swine flu, if the current outbreak turns into a pandemic.
A published report Wednesday said the WHO could decide as early as next week t
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