WHO: Swine flu virus is top strain worldwide

Nov 05, 2009 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- The World Health Organization's flu chief said the swine flu virus has now become the predominant flu strain worldwide.

In some countries, swine flu accounts for up to 70 percent of the flu viruses being sampled, said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO's top flu official.

While most people recover from the illness without needing medical treatment, officials are also continuing to see severe cases in people under 65 - people who are not usually at risk during regular flu seasons.

"We remain quite concerned about the patterns that we're seeing," Fukuda said during a press briefing Thursday.

He said the swine flu appeared to be fairly stable, and that samples from around the world remained very similar to when the virus was first identified in April.

Regarding the recent surge of cases in the Ukraine - which has reported more than 25,000 cases of people with flu-like illness in recent days - Fukuda said the virus appeared no different there than anywhere else.

"We just simply have to understand that can cause outbreaks in very large numbers of people," he said. "Patterns can be quite different from country to country."

Fukuda said the agency was also monitoring the impact of the virus on particularly susceptible populations.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan officials reported that swine flu had hit the Yanomami Indians, killing seven people in a population of 28,000.

Fukuda said WHO had observed that aboriginals in Australia were disproportionately hit by swine flu, but could not say whether they were more genetically vulnerable to the virus or if that was due to underlying health problems.

With swine programs now under way in more than 20 countries, Fukuda said no rare or dangerous side effects had been reported, and the agency was convinced the vaccine was "highly safe."

Fukuda said WHO had been surprised that the vaccine appeared to work after just one dose, but was happy about it because that mean the world's vaccine supplies could be stretched.

Even in children under 10, Fukuda said WHO recommended that one dose could be effective. Some countries, including the U.S., are recommending that children get two doses of the shot.

"It is better to provide one dose to as many children as possible rather than two doses to fewer children," Fukuda said.

On the Net: http://www.who.int

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Poland suffers first cases of African swine fever in pigs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flu season: How many shots?

Aug 30, 2009

(AP) -- Doctors don't know yet if it will take one dose or two of vaccine to protect against the new swine flu. Add that to vaccine for the regular winter flu, and it could be a multishot season for a lot of people - or ...

World 'getting closer' to swine flu pandemic: WHO

Jun 02, 2009

The world is "getting closer" to a swine flu pandemic as the virus shows early signs of spreading locally in countries outside the Americas, a senior World Health Organisation official said Tuesday.

US swine flu cases up to 37,000

Jul 10, 2009

(AP) -- U.S. health officials say swine flu activity is dying down a bit, but the number of cases has surpassed 37,000 and deaths hit 211.

WHO consults emergency flu committee

Jun 05, 2009

The World Health Organisation on Friday began consulting its emergency committee of flu experts on the severity of the swine flu virus and possible travel recommendations.

Recommended for you

Diseases of another kind

11 hours ago

The drought that has the entire country in its grip is affecting more than the color of people's lawns. It may also be responsible for the proliferation of a heat-loving amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such ...

User comments : 0