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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WHO: Swine flu virus may face deadly mutation

Tue, 12 May 2009

The conformation of new swine flu cases in different countries has caused WHO officials to announce the virus has the potential to cause a global pandemic.

In a Monday news briefing, acting WHO assistant director-general Keiji Fukuda said that it was too early to say whether the swine flu virus would cause a pandemic, adding that there is no sign of sustained person-to-person spread outside North America.

In a Tuesday statement, however, the WHO stressed that the new virus 'appears to be more contagious than seasonal influenza' and that nearly everyone in the world lacks immunity against the new disease.

The report added that the new H1N1 flu virus has the potential to unpredictably mutate into a more virulent form, resulting in a pandemic that may circle the globe in at least two or even three waves.

The Imperial College London had earlier reported that swine flu has a 'full pandemic potential' as it may infect one-third of the world's population in within the next six to nine months, adding that the new virus can infect one out of every three individuals who come into contact with an H1N1 patient.

British scientists also claimed that about 6,000 to 32,000 Mexicans are infected with the deadly virus; Mexican health officials, however, have only reported 2,059 cases of swine flu infection including 56 deaths in 29 of the country's 32 districts.

In the US, the second country attacked by the new strain of the H1N1 flu, the virus is spreading so fast that CDC officials have decided to stop counting individual cases as they are only 'confirming the tip of the iceberg'.

Statistics show that more than 2,600 confirmed swine flu cases, three deaths and 700 suspected cases have been reported in 43 US states.

Health officials have also stressed that the virus, which is 'circulating throughout the United States and is likely to be in every state', is relatively mild and may be troublesome only in those with an underlying disease.

WHO officials concluded that the impact of any pandemic varies in different countries, as it is mild in countries with strong health systems but becomes devastating in those with weak health systems which lack drugs and well-equipped hospitals.-PressTV

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