WHO Rasies Influenza Epidemic Alert Level From 4 to 5

91 cases now confirmed in US; WHO says pandemic is imminent
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that the United States has had its first fatality as a result of swine flu. The case was a 23-month-old Mexican boy who was in Houston for medical treatment. Also, on April 29, the World Health Organization raised the influenza epidemic alert level from 4 to 5, meaning a pandemic is imminent.

The number of confirmed cases in the United States has reached 91, according to Richard Besser, M.D., the CDC's acting director, with infections occurring in 10 states. New York City accounts for 51 of the cases, followed by Texas and California with 16 and 14 cases, respectively. Cases have now been reported in Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region, but so far there have only been deaths in the United States and Mexico where 159 people have died.

The CDC recommends clinicians remain vigilant and consider swine flu as a possible diagnosis in patients presenting with febrile respiratory illness.

"If swine flu is suspected, clinicians should obtain a respiratory swab for swine influenza testing and place it in a refrigerator (not a freezer)," a statement on the CDC Web site says. "Once collected, the clinician should contact their state or local health department to facilitate transport and timely diagnosis at a state public health laboratory."

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