From Bloomberg, May 25, 2009:
“Swine Flu Is Spreading Wider Than Official Data Show”
“Swine flu is spreading more widely than official figures indicate, with outbreaks in Europe and Asia showing it’s gained a foothold in at least three regions.
One in 20 cases is being officially reported in the U.S., meaning more than 100,000 people have probably been infected nationwide with the new H1N1 flu strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the U.K., the virus may be 300 times more widespread than health authorities have said, the Independent on Sunday reported yesterday.
Japan, which has reported the most cases in Asia, began reopening schools at the weekend after health officials said serious medical complications had not emerged in those infected. The virus is now spreading in the community in Australia, Jim Bishop, the nation’s chief medical officer, said yesterday.
“I think we will see the number rise,” Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today after confirming the nation’s 17th case and saying test results are pending on 41 others. “This is going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.”
Forty-six countries have confirmed 12,515 cases, including 91 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s latest tally. Almost four of every five cases were in Mexico and the U.S., where the pig-derived strain was discovered last month. Most of those infected experience an illness similar to that of seasonal flu. The main difference is that the new H1N1 strain is persisting outside the Northern Hemisphere winter.
“While we are seeing activities decline in some areas, we should expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and perhaps more deaths over the weeks ahead and possibly into the summer,” Anne Schuchat, CDC’s interim deputy director for science and public health program, told reporters on a May 22 conference call.
The U.S. has officially reported 6,552 probable and confirmed cases, Schuchat said. “These are just the tip of the iceberg. We are estimating more than 100,000 people probably have this virus now in the U.S.”
There have been nine deaths and more than 300 known hospitalizations, she said. The fatalities exclude a woman in her 50s who died in New York over the weekend.
China reported cases today in Shanghai and the eastern province of Zhejiang, taking its tally of confirmed infections to 12. Taiwan confirmed the island’s first domestically transmitted case and reported two imported infections, giving it nine. South Korea confirmed 12 more cases, bringing its total to 22, while the Philippines confirmed a second infection today.”
“Community spread of the new virus in a second region means WHO’s criteria for a pandemic has been met, said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy of the University of Minneapolis.”