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Swine flu deaths rise above 1,000: WHO

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The number of deaths to date from swine flu is at least 1, 154, the World Health Organization reported Tuesday.

The number of deaths to date from swine flu is at least 1, 154, the World Health Organization reported Tuesday.

The figure includes 338 deaths reported in the week leading up to last Friday. Most occurred in North and South America, where WHO’s regional office for the Americas has reported 1,008 deaths since the first emerged in April.

There is no evidence the H1N1 virus is mutating into a more dangerous form. So far, six patients have been found to have a strain that is resistant to the antiviral drug Tamiflu, WHO said.

Since the agency’s last update on July 6 and as of July 31, nine more countries reported confirmed cases of the pandemic strain, bringing the total number of countries and territories reporting swine flu to 168. The new countries were: Azerbaijan, Gabon, Grenada, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Monaco, Nauru, Swaziland, and Suriname.

The number of laboratory confirmed cases reached 162380 as of July 1, an underestimate since many countries are no longer testing all people showing flu symptoms.

In another development, researchers in Hong Kong have reported that frequent hand washing and wearing face masks at home could help reduce transmission of influenza viruses in some cases.

“During a pandemic, resources may not be available to isolate all infected individuals, and home isolation of some patients may be required,” the researchers concluded in Tuesday’s online issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Our results suggest that hand hygiene and facemasks can reduce influenza virus transmission if implemented early after symptom onset in an index patient.”

The study was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© CBC News 2009. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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