CDC confirms second death from swine flu

5/6/2009

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday morning confirmed a second death attributed to the H1N1 virus out of the state of Texas. The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 642 across 41 states.

The second death was a 33-year-old pregnant schoolteacher with chronic underlying health problems, according to published reports, though no detail was shed on what those health problems might be.

While the total number of cases currently stands at 642, there may be more than 450 additional cases CDC acting director Richard Besser reported Tuesday during a news conference. “We expect that as we get these test kits out to state labs and as they get up to speed from some of the backlog they've had on testing will go away and we'll see a big bump in the number of cases,” he said. “That doesn't reflect transmission as much as it reflects we're catching up with the testing.”

So far, the median age of confirmed cases is 16 years, ranging from 3 months to 81 years old, however, 62% of cases so far have been in patients less than 18-years-old. There have been 35 known hospitalizations as of Tuesday, with one death. The second death occurred Tuesday evening.

“We are seeing and expect to continue to see virus transmissions both around the United States and around the globe,” Besser said.  “And given what we know from seasonal flu, we would expect that we would continue to see additional hospitalizations and it's likely we would see additional deaths.”

And while the number of increasing cases may be alarming, the CDC has a better handle on how virulent the virus may be, prompting the agency to rescind its advisory that schools should close for a two-week period if any student or teacher is diagnosed with H1N1 influenza.

“We have some information about the virus that shows it does not contain some of the factors that are associated or were associated with previous pandemics,” Besser said. “We continue to gain information about severity in this country.And what we're seeing is severity that mirrors what we've tended to see with seasonal flu.”

Looking forward, tracking of the virus will now move to the southern hemisphere, which is entering its influenza season.

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