Schools all across the United States are on the verge of closing but, this time, it’s for the summer holidays and not the swine flu. That doesn’t mean swine flu is no longer cause for alarm, though. The latest news from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that each one of the 50 US states now reports at least one confirmed case of swine (H1N1) flu. As of June 1, more than 10,000 total cases have been confirmed, according to the CDC.
Confirmed cases are thought to represent only about one-twentieth the actual number of cases, a calculation that brings the estimated total to more than 200,000 cases nationwide. Although the flu typically brings mild symptoms, 17 deaths in the US have been definitively linked to the H1N1 virus.
At this time, the H1N1 swine flu is affecting mostly older children and young adults whereas the more common seasonal flu viruses generally affect the youngest children and the oldest adults the hardest. Public health officials fear the virus, which spreads quite easily, could mutate into a more dangerous form that affects a wider population or with more severe symptoms than what is being seen now. The race for a vaccine is well under way, with the hope of having such a vaccine available before flu season starts in the US this fall.
World Health Organization (WHO) officials say 17,564 cases have been confirmed in 64 countries around the globe, with 115 people dying from it. This past week, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Vietnam, and Wales reported their first confirmed cases.