Monday, May 4, 2009

CDC & WHO daily updated numbers and comments

WHO is reporting 1003 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza from 20 countries on four continents.

CDC is reporting 286 cases and 1 death in 36 states. Starting today, CDC will also begin to report on probably cases. Thus far, 99% of probable cases have been confirmed H1N1 (swine flu) infections, so reporting on probable cases for the United States will give a more accurate picture of the outbreak.

Dr. Chan gave some excellent remarks today again explaining how the global community is neither underestimating or overestimating the risk. Rather, we are just keeping in mind the unpredictable nature of influenza viruses. See her communications below:

"We do not know how long we have until we move to phase 6, which indicates we are in a pandemic. We are not there yet. The criteria will be met when we see, in one region outside North America, clear evidence of community-level transmission.

Although we face many uncertainties, we do know some things, which I want to share with you now.

Some of this knowledge comes from the behaviour of past pandemics. Other knowledge is specific to the new H1N1 virus and comes from the cases we are seeing in different countries and a look at the virus in the laboratory.

This helps us understand the situation, right now. However, experience during past pandemics warns us that the initial situation can change in many ways, with many, many surprises.

Historically, influenza pandemics have encircled the globe in two, sometimes three, waves. During the previous century, the 1918 pandemic, the most deadly of them all, began in a mild wave and then returned in a far more deadly one. In fact, the first wave was so mild that its significance as a warning signal was missed.

As we are seeing, the world today is much more alert to such warning signals and much better prepared to respond.

The pandemic of 1957 began with a mild phase followed, in several countries, by a second wave with higher fatality. The pandemic of 1968 remained, in most countries, comparatively mild in both its first and second waves.

At this point, we have no indication that we are facing a situation similar to that seen in 1918. As I must stress repeatedly, this situation can change, not because we are overestimating or underestimating the situation, but simply because influenza viruses are constantly changing in unpredictable ways."

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