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Swine flu now unstoppable : WHO
Published on 4 Jul. 2009 1:02 AM IST
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World Health Organization head Margaret Chan has warned a forum in Mexico that the swine flu virus worldwide is now unstoppable. The WHO says most H1N1 cases are mild, with many people recovering unaided. As the summit opened, the UK alone was projecting more than 100,000 new cases of H1N1 a day by the end of the summer. “As we see today, with well over 100 countries reporting cases, once a fully fit pandemic virus emerges, its further international spread is unstoppable,” The BBC quoted Dr. Chan, as saying in her opening remarks. She stressed that the overwhelming majority of patients experienced mild symptoms and made a full recovery within a week, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment. The exceptions, she said, were pregnant women and people with underlying health problems, who were at higher risk from complications from the virus and should be monitored if they fell ill. “For a pandemic of moderate severity, this is one of our greatest challenges: helping people to understand when they do not need to worry, and when they do need to seek urgent care,” Dr Chan said. Turning to the summit venue, the WHO chief added: “Mexico is a safe, as well as a beautiful and warmly gracious, place to visit.” Leaders and experts from 50 countries are in Cancun for the two-day meeting to discuss strategies for combating the virus. It has been more than two months since the initial alert over swine flu. The deadly swine flu virus has the potential to reach deep into the respiratory system, and even as far as the intestines, according to two new studies on ferrets. The above findings could explain why the disease’s symptoms are different from those of seasonal flu. The studies were conducted by two separate groups that have been using ferrets to investigate how harmful A (H1N1) influenza virus is, and how easily it is transmitted. One of the studies was led by Terrence Tumpey at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, whose colleagues put droplets of three different swine flu viruses, and one ‘seasonal’ flu virus, into the noses of ferrets. Some ferrets shared cages with other uninfected ferrets, and some were placed in cages next to other ferrets, sharing nothing but the air they breathed. It was found that the ferrets with swine flu strains lost more weight than those with normal flu, and that the swine flu reached lower down into the lungs of some of the ferrets than normal seasonal flu, penetrating the intestines in some cases. Since then, the H1N1 virus has entered more than 100 countries, infected more than 70,000 people and killed more than 300 worldwide.

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