A/H1N1 virus now dominant flu virus in all countries, says WHO

13:28, November 06, 2009      

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The A/H1N virus has become the world's dominant influenza virus but so far there are no signs showing the new virus has mutated into a form different than when it was first identified, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

"It's clear that the pandemic virus has become the dominant influenza virus in all countries," Dr. Keiji Fukuda, special adviser to the WHO director-general on pandemic influenza, said at a press briefing.

Fukuda said that in the northern hemisphere, where the winter season is coming, infections caused by the pandemic virus are picking up in a number of different countries from North America to Europe and Asia.

He anticipated infections to continue to increase in the northern hemisphere during the next few months, including serious cases and deaths.

The doctor said there are still no signs showing the virus mutating into a more dangerous form, but continued monitoring of its genetics and antigenetic properties is necessary.

He said cases of A/H1N1 virus showing resistance to antiviral drugs are only "isolated and infrequent" and the WHO continues to recommend the use of antiviral drugs to treat the disease.

Fukuda also highlighted the importance of vaccination against the virus. He said more than 20 countries have started a vaccination campaign and experience shows that the vaccines are "highly safe."

The vaccines "have been received by a significant number of people without problems," he said.

The A/H1N1 virus has thus far infected more than 440,000 people worldwide, causing more than 5,700 deaths, the WHO said.

Source: Xinhua
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