August 5, 2009

Swine Flue Death Toll Tops 1,000

The swine flu pandemic has resulted in 1,154 deaths since April, the World Health Organization reported on Wednesday.

The organization said 338 deaths were reported last week.

The illness has been tracked in 168 countries and territories.

WHO said that some two billion people could be infected with the H1N1 virus before the disease is eliminated.

"By the end of a pandemic, anywhere between 15-45 percent of a population will have been infected by the new pandemic virus," WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi said in a statement.

"Thirty percent is a midpoint estimate and 30 percent of the world's population is 2 billion."

"We must remember however, that attempts to estimate infection rates can only be very rough."

In June, the WHO announced that a global pandemic of the H1N1 virus was underway. As a result, it raised the global pandemic alert level to Phase 6, due to the spread of the virus, not the rate of morbidity.

WHO has also reported that six patients have been found with a mutation of the virus that is resistant to Tamiflu.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that up to 40 percent of Americans could be infected with the swine flu virus over the next two years. Those estimates were based on figures from a 1957 flu pandemic, which resulted in the deaths of 70,000 Americans.

"Hopefully, mitigation efforts will have a big impact on future cases," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Swiss drugmaker Novartis reported on Wednesday that it has started human trials of a new experimental swine flu vaccine. A person in Britain became the first of about 6,000 people to be part of a 12-month vaccine trial.


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