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H1N1 Pandemic Spreading Too Fast to Count

On Thursday, July 16, 2009, MedlinePlus® news published a story from Reuters Health with these three key points:

1.) H1N1 virus has spread more quickly than other pandemics;

2.) The World Health Organization (WHO) states it is ”pointless” to count individual cases;

3.) Countries should track deaths, unusual patterns

WHO has said that the current H1N1 pandemic is the “fastest-moving pandemic ever”, and that it is now virtually “pointless” to try to count every case. The WHO Briefing note (issued July 16) went on to say that “further spread of the pandemic, within affected countries and to new countries, is considered inevitable.”  Influenza viruses of past pandemics have required six months or more to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks.

 While WHO will no longer issue global tables showing the numbers of confirmed cases in all countries, regular updates will be provided on the situation in newly affected countries. In addition, all countries should still closely monitor unusual clusters of severe or fatal infections from the pandemic virus, clusters of respiratory illness requiring hospitalization or unexplained or unusual clinical patterns.

 Additional information may be found at the following sites:

MedlinePlus News for Thursday, July 16: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_87010.html

 WHO Briefing Note from 16 July 2009: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/notes/h1n1_surveillance_20090710/en/index.html

 The New York Times, July 16, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/world/17flu.html?_r=3

 The Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2009: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124787226825260533.html

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