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AP Examines H1N1 Surveillance By U.S., WHO

The Associated Press examines how the decision by U.S. health officials to stop counting new cases of H1N1 (swine flu) in July has complicated the government’s ability to assess groups particularly hard hit by the virus. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is relying on a patchwork system of gathering death and hospitalization numbers. Some states are reporting lab-confirmed cases. Others report illnesses that could be the new swine flu, seasonal flu or some other respiratory disease,” the news service writes.  

“The World Health Organization also stopped counting cases in July, after deciding that tracking individual swine flu cases was too overwhelming for countries where the virus was spreading widely,” the AP writes. “The WHO has continued to update swine flu reports, but with the disclaimer that since countries are no longer required to test and report cases, WHO’s numbers underestimate” (Stobbe, 10/9).

In related news, Reuters examines the results of a recent CDC study of U.S. patients who became seriously ill or died from H1N1. The study confirmed the virus hits a younger population and causes different symptoms than the seasonal flu. “The study of 272 patients sick enough to be hospitalized showed about 40 percent had diarrhea and vomiting — usually rare with seasonal flu — and confirmed that quick treatment with antivirals could save lives,” the news service writes (Fox, 10/8).