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Flu peaks in Mexico, though H1N1 is now global pandemic

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  • Flu peaks in Mexico, though H1N1 is now global pandemic

    Flu peaks in Mexico, though H1N1 is now global pandemic
    Written by GR Staff
    Saturday, 13 June 2009
    MEXICO - Just when you though swine flu was fading from the spotlight, the World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday declared a global flu pandemic ? the first in 40 years.

    The H1N1 flu virus emerged in Mexico in April and has now spread around the globe, infecting nearly 30,000 people in 74 countries.

    Speaking on Thursday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan warned that the pandemic was in its ?earliest days.?

    But she added: ?The overwhelming majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a rapid and full recovery, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment.

    ?Worldwide, the number of deaths is small. Each and every one of these deaths is tragic, and we have to brace ourselves to see more. However, we do not expect to see a sudden and dramatic jump in the number of severe or fatal infections. The novel H1N1 virus preferentially infects younger people. In nearly all areas with large and sustained outbreaks, the majority of cases have occurred in people under the age of 25 years.

    ?In some of these countries, around two percent of cases have developed severe illness, often with very rapid progression to life-threatening pneumonia. Most cases of severe and fatal infections have been in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years.?

    With 6,337 confirmed cases of H1N1 and 108 deaths, Mexico ? along with the United States ? has been most been affected by the disease. (The United States has reported 13,217 cases and 27 deaths, while Canada?s total is 2,446 cases and four deaths.)

    Nonetheless, the number of new cases reported in Mexico has dropped to around 30 per day, down from 300 a day at the peak of the outbreak in late April and early May, Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said Wednesday.

    Cordova said a spike in the disease is unlikely in the next few months but noted that the nation?s health departments are prepared for an upturn in the flu in the fall.

    A second person in Jalisco has died after becoming infected with H1N1, state health authorities reported this week. The victim, a 49-year-old woman from Zapopan, died in the Old Hospital Civil in Guadalajara on May 29, according to Elizabeth Ulloa Robles, public health director for Jalisco.

    As of Thursday, June 11, there were 363 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Jalisco.

    Heath officials renewed checks on students this week after 15 children at a primary school in Tlaquepaque were sent home on suspicion of having the flu. Last week, authorities relaxed the checks after the outbreak seemed to be abating.

    Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Guadalajara medical school warned that the H1N1 virus is likely to come back with vengeance in October.

    Chan agrees. ?Countries where outbreaks appear to have peaked should prepare for a second wave of infection,? she said Thursday.