Rapid spread of swine flu justified warnings
Posted: May 11th, 2009 - 11:01pm
WASHINGTON -- The number of cases of swine flu may have been several times higher than reported and the potential for rapid spread of the illness justified the World Health Organization's decision to raise the global pandemic alert, a new study concludes.
While WHO is reporting about 4,800 confirmed cases in 30 countries, the new analysis estimates there have been between 6,000 and 32,000 cases in Mexico alone.
While there have been 1,626 cases of the flu confirmed in Mexico, the researchers note that there have been more than 11,000 suspected infections.
"Our early analysis would suggest this is going to be an outbreak comparable to that of 20th century pandemics regarding the extent of its spread — it's very difficult to quantify the human health impact at this stage, however," said lead author Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London.
Ferguson's analysis was released by the journal Science. Normally Science releases its reports on Thursdays but the journal said it was issuing this study early because it contains important public health information.