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Over 2,800 People Worldwide Have Died From H1N1, WHO Reports

The WHO on Friday announced the H1N1 (swine) flu virus has killed at least 2,837 people – the result of an continued increase in the number of H1N1 cases worldwide, not the virulence of the virus, Reuters reports. “There is no sense that the virus has mutated or changed in any sense,” WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl said during a news conference (Nebehay/MacInnis, 9/4).

“The data mark an increase of 652 deaths from the last toll of 2,185 published a week ago,” Agence France-Presse/Khajeel Times reports (9/4).

Number Of H1N1 Cases Level Off In Southern Hemisphere, Rise In U.S.

The H1N1 flu continues to “taper off along with the influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere,” Reuters reports in a separate article. The results of a “U.S. government analysis of the epidemics in Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, and Uruguay showed that while H1N1 dominated the flu seasons there, it was only moderately severe,” the news service writes (Fox, 9/4). According to a summary of the report, “[a]ll countries report that after mid July, disease activity in most parts of the country decreased … indicating the duration of the current influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere, in which the 2009 H1N1 virus is the predominate strain, may be similar in length to an average seasonal influenza season.” The H1N1 virus also caused stress on the healthcare system, according to the report (8/26).

Despite reports of “an uptick” in the number of H1N1 flu cases in the U.S., Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC expressed optimism on Thursday that “so far everything we’ve seen both here and abroad shows the virus is not changing,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Dooren, 9/3). A separate Wall Street Journal article examines the CDC study released Thursday. Though “most of those U.S. children who have died of the new H1N1 flu were at least five years old, and 67% had high-risk medical conditions, predominantly neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy or cerebral palsy. Some otherwise healthy children who died had bacterial infections, the study found, warning doctors to be on the lookout for them so they could be treated quickly” (McKay/Fairclough, 9/4).

Bloomberg Examines Why U.S. Health Officials May Recommend Two, Not One Dose Of H1N1 Vaccine

Bloomberg examines how Americans may need two doses of the H1N1 vaccine in order to be protected from the virus, because U.S. health “officials plan to exclude ingredients used to boost immune responses in shots” called adjuvants.

“We expect that the likelihood of needing two doses of vaccine that’s not adjuvanted is higher than with an adjuvanted vaccine,” Frieden said Thursday. “We don’t anticipate that we’ll be using adjuvanted vaccine in most of the scenarios that we anticipate now, though that could change” (Randall, 9/3).

Unlicensed Administration Of Relenza May Help Patients With Tamiflu-Resistant Virus, Study Says

As reported Friday in the journal Lancet, doctors have successfully treated a patient with H1N1 flu who was nonresponsive to Tamiflu with the antiviral Relenza, administered intravenously, the Associated Press/Yahoo! News reports. “Relenza is usually inhaled via the nose, and is not licensed to be given intravenously,” the news service writes. However, as Michael Kidd – of University College London, and the lead author of the study – notes, “[t]his may provide a third route to treat patients that are not responding to antiviral treatment because the active drug is not getting to the lungs.” The news service adds, “The World Health Organization said the treatment was likely to be used only in rare circumstances, since it is not easily available and is unlicensed” (Cheng, 9/3).

WHO Director Addresses Need For H1N1 Preparedness Plans, Vaccines During WHO Regional Meeting

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Tuesday “called on health officials from across Africa to strengthen their preparedness and response plans in the face of the current influenza pandemic,” during the 59th Session of the WHO Regional Committee in Kigali, Rwanda, the New Times/allAfrica.com reports (Nambi, 9/3). Chan also reiterated the need for H1N1 vaccines to be available to developing countries, the Daily Trust/allAfrica.com reports (Rabiu, 9/3).

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