Is the U.S. swine flu epidemic at its end?

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: February 6, 2010
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/> "The government did not overreact,” said University of Michigan flu expert Dr. Arnold Monto, echoing Osterholm’s point.

Whether it will stay quiet for the rest of the winter is hard to say, but some experts are beginning to lean that way.

A poll released Friday by the Harvard School of Public Health found that 44 percent of Americans believe the outbreak is over.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released numbers Friday showing most states continued to have only occasional flu activity last week. However, only three states had absolutely no reports, and a CDC official cautioned that swine flu is still around and is likely to keep infecting people for weeks or months to come.

"We don’t seem to be seeing the disappearance of this virus,” said the official, Dr. Anne Schuchat.

An estimated 70 million Americans have been vaccinated against swine flu through a government campaign that started in October. Counting those who have already been infected and others who were vaccinated, perhaps 40 percent of the public has some immunity to the virus. However, , this is a global disease that can move quickly through air travel, and much of the rest of the world is not vaccinated, Osterholm pointed out.



ALSO ...
Vaccine now in surplus

LOS ANGELES — The H1N1 flu vaccine shortage has become a surplus. Out of nearly 120 million vaccines distributed nationwide, only about 70 million have been used, federal officials said. Another 35 million doses have been produced but not shipped and instead may be donated overseas. A vaccine that just months ago was so scarce that people camped out at free clinics for the chance to get it, is now the subject of a different scramble: What should happen to the unused doses? Some providers report confusion about what to do and frustration with a distribution system that has made it difficult to know whether their unused doses, some of which are about to expire, are needed by another doctor to vaccinate patients. But many doctors report that demand is simply no longer there, in some cases leaving them with thousands of doses of the once-hot vaccine.

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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