All of this followed the declaration by Mexican officials on Monday that the epidemic appeared to be waning, with no deaths linked to swine flu recorded since April 29. The country's flu alert was scaled back to allow cafes, museums and libraries to reopen this week after a five-day shutdown of nonessential businesses. Universities and high schools will reopen Thursday, and younger schoolchildren are to report back to school on May 11, the AP reported.
"The measures we have taken, and above all the public's reaction, have led to an improvement," Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said at a news conference on Monday. "But I insist that the virus is still present, that we need to remain on alert, and the resumption of activities will be little by little, not all at once."
What health experts don't know is whether the never-before-seen virus will return, perhaps in a more dangerous form, when the regular flu season begins again late this year. Because the pathogen is a genetic mix of pig, bird and human flu strains, health officials are worried that humans may have no natural immunity to it.
As with the previously tested strains of the swine flu virus, new testing has found that the pathogen remains susceptible to the two common antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, according to the CDC.
And that has led to a boom in sales of the two drugs in the United States, the AP reported Tuesday. Frightened by the prospects of the swine flu, Americans are snapping up the two antiviral medicines that treat the virus, whether they have it or not.
More than one-quarter of a million prescriptions for Tamiflu pills alone were filled at retail U.S pharmacies in the week ending last Friday. That's 34 times higher than the week before -- as the regular flu season wound down -- and more than double the peak of last winter's flu season, the news service said.
WHO officials stressed th
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