WHO official predicts H1N1 'explosion'
updated 12:14 p.m. EDT, Fri August 21, 2009
BEIJING, China (CNN) -- The world will soon see an "explosion" of swine flu cases as the H1N1 virus spreads rapidly around the world, a top World Health Organization official said Friday.
Spread of the virus is entering an "acceleration period" and it is certain that there will be more cases and more deaths, said Dr. Shin Young-soo, the organization's regional director for the Western Pacific.
"Most countries may see a doubling of cases every three to four days for two months until peak transmission is reached," he said at a symposium in Beijing, China. "At a certain point, there will seem to be an explosion in case numbers. I believe it is very likely that all countries will see community-level transmission by the end of the year."
More than 1,490 people around the world have died from the virus since it emerged this spring, Shin said.
Swine flu is the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. So far, it has caused mostly mild illness, but Shin warned "the virus has a sting in its tail" because it is very infectious and "has the potential to cause more serious disease."
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Kids roll up sleeves for H1N1 clinical trial
By Val Willingham
CNN Medical producer
FREDERICK, Maryland (CNN) -- Andrew Stein, 10, and his brother, Nathan, 7, are having a typical end-of-summer vacation: hanging out at the pool, visiting their grandparents and waiting for the beginning of school
But this week they're doing something most of their classmates will never do. The Stein brothers will be testing the new vaccine to prevent swine flu.
Because the younger population, from 6 months to 24 years, is at high risk of developing complications from the H1N1 virus, the National Institutes of Health is conducting a clinical trial specifically to make sure the vaccine is safe for children. Vaccine developers hope to get the doses out by mid-October, before the flu season really shifts into high gear.
Although both boys dislike needles, they are willing to make the sacrifice. "One boy that I knew at our school died from a type of the flu," said Andrew, frowning. "So I wanted to prevent that as much as I could."
The boys, who live in the suburbs between Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, got their first inoculations at the vaccine satellite office in Frederick, Maryland. The trial is being conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, one of 11 institutions across the country holding pediatric trials. Researchers will test the boys' blood, have them keep journals and make sure they have no severe reactions after each vaccine.
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Obama administration urges employer flexibility in H1N1 fight
updated 3:04 p.m. EDT, Wed August 19, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Obama administration Wednesday urged employers to adopt "flexible and non-punitive" sick-leave policies as it released new guidelines for containing the spread of the H1N1 virus in the coming flu season.
Among other things, businesses were asked to keep employees out of the office if they exhibit flulike symptoms and to establish alternative work arrangements for employees considered vulnerable to complications from the virus.
They also were asked to prepare contingency plans -- including telecommuting and staggered shifts -- to ensure that operations can continue in the event a workplace is hit hard this fall or winter by the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.
Whenever possible, employees should be cross-trained to cover essential functions when co-workers become sick, the administration said.
The business guidelines were unveiled in a joint announcement from the secretaries of commerce, health and human services, and homeland security.
"We already face much economic uncertainty. A flu outbreak is a very scary prospect," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.
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