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WHO: swine flu epidemic still spreading

 Arriving passengers, some wearing facemasks for protection against H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu virus, queue up to have their passports pr...
 Philippine immigration officers, most of them wearing surgical masks and latex gloves, process arriving airline passengers, some of whom also are wea...

Philippines Swine Flu Pacquiao

Arriving passengers, some wearing facemasks for protection against H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu virus, queue up to have their passports pr...

Philippines Swine Flu Pacquiao

Philippine immigration officers, most of them wearing surgical masks and latex gloves, process arriving airline passengers, some of whom also are wea...

The swine flu epidemic continues to spread, a senior world health official said Tuesday, contradicting hopes voiced by some countries that the outbreak may have peaked.
Of the 405 additional laboratory confirmed cases reported to the World Health Organization since Monday, some were new infections, said WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda.
The global body says there are now 1,490 cases and 30 confirmed deaths. Of those, 822 cases and 29 deaths were in Mexico; the United States had 403 cases and 1 death; Canada had 140 cases, Spain 57, Britain 27, Germany nine, New Zealand six and Italy five. Israel and France had four cases each, Korea and El Salvador had two each, and Austria, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland had one case each.
"We are seeing testing of specimens that were collected from previous infections and then the laboratory work is catching up to it," Fukuda said. "But we're also seeing new infections occurring."
"So, there's both of these things going on simultaneously," he told reporters.
Fukuda said he was unable to give an exact breakdown of the figures, but spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said all but one death had occurred in Mexico. The United States has previously reported that one small child died from the disease.
Most of the people infected with the so-called A/H1N1 virus were young people in their mid-20s on average, Fukuda said.
Most of the people who came down with swine flu had been traveling to Mexico, which is the hardest-hit country.
Experts examining the disease say travel could also explain why mostly younger people appear to be affected, as they tend to be the ones traveling, Fukuda said.
"With influenza, oftentimes we see the infections go to younger people first and then go to older people later," Fukuda told reporters.
Another reason could be that older people already have some kind of protection against the virus from previous infections, he added.
Fukuda said patients who recover from the new swine flu virus would also likely gain some immunity to future outbreaks, if only for a few years.
"With influenza viruses, when you are infected it provides some protection against future influenza viruses similar to the one which infected you," he said.
The protection lasts "a couple of years and then the viruses themselves change enough so that it's kind of a new virus for your body so that you are susceptible again."
The disease is affecting females and males equally, Fukuda said, and the incubation period has ranged from around one day to a week, as seen with usual flu.
The World Health Organization said it was starting to ship 2.4 million treatments of antiflu drugs to the 72 countries "most in need" on Tuesday.
The countries included Mexico, Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Bolivia, Eritrea, Haiti, Moldova, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Zimbabwe and others. The agency declined to say how much each country is getting.
"Part of the stock will be dispatched today, the 5th of May, from Geneva and Basel in Switzerland, Maryland in the U.S. and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates," said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.
The drugs are from a stock of 5 million treatments of Tamiflu that manufacturer Roche Holding AG donated to WHO in 2005 and 2006, she said.
Roche spokeswoman Martina Rupp in Basel said the company was starting work on the shipments at its Basel headquarters Tuesday.
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Associated Press writers Alexander G. Higgins and Frank Jordans contributed to the report.