updated 6/4/2009 8:55:07 PM ET 2009-06-05T00:55:07

Mexico has seen the worst of swine flu, but the virus will likely continue to spread worldwide as flu season ramps up in the Southern Hemisphere.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

The epidemic peaked in Mexico, the center of the outbreak, in late April, and now has spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

But it will continue to be a threat south of the equator, where countries are entering the winter months and traditional flu season, according to the CDC report, one of the most comprehensive yet on the effect of the virus on people.

South America already has had more than 600 cases, including one death in Chile, while Australia has reported more than 500.

Swine flu has hit more than 60 countries, with the United States reporting the most cases — more than 11,400, including at least 19 deaths, according to the CDC.

Mexico's Health Department on Friday said the nation's confirmed swine flu cases had risen to 5,717, including 106 deaths, as scientists test a backlog of samples from patients.

The CDC report said children and adults under 60 are at greater risk of dying, judging from confirmed cases. One reason could be that younger people and children haven't built up immunities to seasonal flu as older people have. About one-third of U.S. adults aged 60 and older who were tested had antibodies from vaccines or exposure to other flu strains that could also keep them from contracting swine flu, the report said.

In Mexico, only 2 percent of confirmed cases have been 60 years old or older. But 42 percent of patients were under the age of 15 and 32 percent were between the ages of 15 and 29. The remaining 24 percent were aged 30-59.

A huge backlog of suspected cases has made long-term predictions for the epidemic difficult, the CDC said, but "data suggest the outbreak likely has moved beyond its peak nationally" in Mexico.

The CDC has praised Mexico for its response. Mexico ordered schools closed April 27 and then followed up with a five-day national shutdown of nonessential businesses to curb the spread of swine flu.

"I think in retrospect some people might look back and say well maybe that was extreme. But from the public health perspective, we would say in the face of uncertainty that's erring on the side of being safe," said Dr. Scott F. Dowell, who heads the CDC's international swine flu team.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments