Pandemic Spreads to 11 CountriesIn U.S., 11 States Have Confirmed Cases; 20 More States Report Suspected Cases
The number of confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus or swine flu stands at 331 people, the World Health Organization says Friday. Confirmed cases of swine flu worldwide were 257 Thursday. See U.S. map.
The virus has spread to 11 countries, but the hardest hit areas were in the western hemisphere, says WHO spokesman Thomas Abraham. There has not been sustained human-to-human transmission anywhere outside the Americas region, Abraham says. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had confirmed 109 cases of the flu with one death. There are 11 states with confirmed cases, and 20 other states have suspected cases.
The largest outbreak has been in Mexico, with 156 confirmed cases, according to the WHO. It added that Mexico had nine deaths attributed to the virus. Mexican health officials say the death toll has risen to 12, and more than 150 deaths are suspected to be linked to the virus. The Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos told news media on Thursday that the country has more than 300 confirmed cases of the virus, a higher number than the WHO reported today.
Even with the increase in confirmed cases, the higher totals does not necessarily mean the incidence of the disease is increasing, a senior WHO official says. Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of WHO, says it could be more to do with health investigators getting through their backlog of specimens. WHO moved the pandemic alert status to level 5 earlier this week, one step below the declaration of a full-blown pandemic. The level 5 designation means widespread human infection from the outbreak that originated in Mexico back in February has been jumping from person to person with relative ease.
In addition to Mexico and the United States, the following countries have confirmed non-lethal cases: Austria 1, Canada 34, Germany 3, Israel 2, Netherlands 1, New Zealand 3, Spain 13, Switzerland 1 and the United Kingdom 8. An additional 230 cases are being investigated in the United Kingdom, and Spain has 84 suspected cases. Australia, which has had no confirmed cases, was investigating 114.
In the United States, New York has the most confirmed cases, with 50, followed by Texas, with 26. California has 14 cases. The CDC added the 11th state Thursday - South Carolina, with 10 cases. State health departments in Delaware, Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska and Virginia on Thursday say they now have confirmed cases: four in Delaware, one in Georgia and two each in Colorado, Nebraska and Virginia. California state officials say they had two new confirmed cases Thursday and Florida's health department says it sent three samples it can't identify to the CDC. Their counts have not been added to the national total.