Wed Aug 5, 2009 5:29pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Closing schools, stopping large gatherings and other such measures are unlikely to do much to prevent the spread of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, a team of experts predicted on Wednesday.
They said pandemic closely resembles the pandemic of H2N2 influenza in 1957 when it quickly became apparent that there was little officials could do to stop it.
“Efforts to mitigate it were futile,” Brooke Courtney Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said in a telephone interview.
Federal officials are expected to announce their recommendations for school closures on Friday. Local school districts and states usually make the decision to close schools, but they look to the federal government for advice.
At the height of the epidemic in May, more than 700 schools closed in the United States, according to the Department of Education.
In Mexico, where the pandemic started, officials closed government offices and schools for around two weeks in April and May, and encouraged businesses to close.
H1N1 is still circulating and, just as influenza did in 1957, it is dominating the mixture of viruses in the southern hemisphere’s flu season going on now.
In its latest update last week the World Health Organization reported 162,230 confirmed cases and 1,154 deaths. But flu experts said this probably reflected only a fraction of the true count as not every patient can be diagnosed with a lab test.
Experts expect the flu will pick up activity in the northern hemisphere’s autumn and the WHO predicted one third of the world’s population — two billion people — will eventually be infected.
• Fatalities more than double is past month (Link)
• First hand account from wife of swine flu victim: ‘I thought my hubby would die’ (Link)
• 129 deaths of A/H1N1 flu (Link)
• A/H1N1 flu death toll rises to 25 in Costa Rica (Link)
• Swine flu scare grips Pune (Link)
• 16 More Swine Flu Cases Discovered across Country (Link)
• Goa to invoke epidemic act to tackle swine flu (Link)
• Swine flu victim’s Pune school reports one more case (Link)
• Iran bans Mecca trips in Ramadan (Link)
• Swine flu tests ‘not practical’ as 500 fall ill within a week (Link)
• A/H1N1 flu cases in Laos rise to 156 (Link)
• Macedonia confirms another two A type flu cases (Link)
• Mexico swine flu cases jump, LatAm deaths soar (Link)
• Soccer fans defy flu fears, vow to back Russia in Cardiff Sept 9 (Link)
• Two more flu deaths reported (Link)
• South Ossetia closes border with Georgia (Link)
• 8th fatality from the A(H1N1) virus (Link)
• Swiss PSA that uses humor (Link)
• Thailand Flu Death Toll Rises To 81 (Link)
• British lab may have found fix for pandemic vaccine low yield problem (Link)
• Swine Flu Vaccination ‘to Be Delayed By At Least Six Weeks’, UK (Link)
• Swine flu skivers cost firms more than virus, say employers (Link)
• MD: Gearing Up For Swine Flu Battle At Schools (Link)
• H1N1 Influenza a Virus in Kansas (Link)
• IN: Has swine flu come to Muncie? (Link)
• KY: Corbin boy was county’s first swine flu case (Link)
• OH: Swine Flu Count ‘Holding Steady’ (Link)
• FL: Osceola woman dies from (Link)
• California nurses protest over H1N1 prep (Link)
• Oregon: Final St. Mary’s group could be back Saturday (Link)
• Health Official Clarifies Remarks About El Paso (Link)
• OR Camp reopens after swine flu outbreak (Link)
• KY Flu Summit (Link)
• CDC requests help with school closures notifications (Link)
• Leaked WHO paper: Observations on Vaccine Production Technologies and Factors Potentially Influencing Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Choices in Developing Countries (Link)
• GSK reports rapid progress on swine flu vaccine (Link)
• WHO: 1154 deaths worldwide (Link)
• WHO moves to ease Tamiflu fears (Link)
• Diseased African Monkeys Used to Make Swine Flu Vaccines; Private Military Contractor Holds Key Patents (Link)