WHO media briefing on swine flu, April 29

The latest news from the World Health Organization is much the same as in past days. WHO meet with reporters online at 5 pm Geneva time April 29 with Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General ai, Health Security and Environment answering questions.
What is known at this point:

The virus spreads person to person
The virus started as a swine flu and has been able to adapt to acting like a human flu virus.
The cases are mostly mild except for in Mexico at this point.
Studies are underway to study the transmission methods of the virus.
Eating cooked pork will not cause the swine flu.
That all of the test samples look very much the same globally.
Right now there is no evidence that other bacterial infections are involved with serious cases. This could change with further studies.

The numbers as of 5 PM at WHO Headquarters are:

Canada- 13 cases
United States- 64/ 1 death
Mexico-26/7 deaths
Israel- 2
United Kingdom-2
New Zealand-3

Where We Are Now

The transmission rate does not slow signs of slowing.
We are not yet at a Phase 5 level, although that could change quickly. While there is evidence that the swine flu does spread well in a school situation the Phase 5 status will come if it starts to spread in neighbourhoods of two or more countries.
While the swine flu is very much like seasonal flu there is a higher rate of diarrhea and vomiting associated with it.
There are now cases that have been reported where Mexico may not have been a factor. WHO is investigating to see if there is a link.

WHO is not sure yet of the ratio of mild/serious/fatal cases as of yet.
WHO is not sure yet if there are risk factors for those with serious disease.

“One of the features of this type of outbreak is that the initial numbers are confusing. WHO can’t address why the numbers are conflicting. I can’t address the specifics.”

Where We Are Going

Because the evidence is that the transmission of the swine flu virus is not likely to stop spreading we must be prepared. The WHO has mentioned a number of times the similarities between this outbreak and the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. During the 1918 pandemic the initial start was a mild period of outbreak with a very quiet summer period and then a very deadly fall pandemic.

“It’s premature to think of the swine flu as mild. We just don’t know yet. In the 1918 Spanish Flu the patterns were similar. This is the time to prepare and figure out how to proceed.”

When asked why some of the new global cases cite Cancun as a location where the virus was imported and yet Cancun is not listed as an outbreak area Dr Keiji Fukuda said it was quite possible that the test results have just not gotten in right in that location.

For the near future WHO and other health agencies will be focusing on how the overall picture of the disease is going and how best to protect people. In the future they will turn back and look for the origin of the outbreak.

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