Swine Flu Death Toll Tops 700The swine flu, H1N1, has now killed more than 700 people around the world since the first outbreak began four months ago -- a jump of at least two-thirds from the last official death toll figure of 429 from the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier in July.
WHO director-general Margaret Chan has warned that swine flu will become the biggest flu pandemic ever seen. At this point, most cases continue to have only mild symptoms. The wide majority of patients are recovering, even without medical treatment, within a week of getting sick.
The WHO says the pandemic is developing and spreading at such a high speed that it is now pointless to try to document every case. In past pandemics, flu viruses needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus spread in less than six weeks.
Officials stress there is an ongoing need to have all countries monitor unusual events, including clusters of severe infections or fatalities, or unusual clinical patterns. More than 125,000 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported worldwide, but the actual number of cases exceeds far more. The U.S. is estimated to have had 1 million cases of the swine flu during the last three months.
WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi says a group of experts, including mathematicians, epidemiologists and virologists are looking at various measures countries could take to slow the spread of the disease. Bhatiasevi says school closures may be among the recommendations, but that it was up to each country to consider appropriate steps for their situations.
Pandemic experts predict there will be a significant surge of new cases of swine flu in the northern hemisphere when the weather begins to cool in the fall.