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Confirmed cases of A/H1N1 flu rise to 60 in Florida
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10:15, May 14, 2009

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Two more cases of A/H1N1 flu have been confirmed on Wednesday in Florida, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 60 in the southern U.S. state.

Local health officials said in the evening that the latest two cases are detected in Palm Beach County.

The two patients, a 75-year-old man and an 18-year-old man, both contracted the virus in early May and are now recovering, said Tim O'Connor, a spokesman of the county's health department.

"Both men had onset of symptoms early on in May and now are better," O'Connor said, adding that several other possible cases are being tested at a state laboratory and could result in more confirmed cases in the county.

So far 60 cases have been confirmed in Florida. Nationwide, 3,009 cases have been confirmed in 45 states, with 3 deaths – two in the state of Texas and one in the state of Washington.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised that antiviral drugs should be given to only patients most at risk.

WHO medical expert Dr. Nikki Shindo said the UN agency thinks antivirals should be targeted mainly at people already suffering from other diseases or complications -- such as pregnancy -- that can lower a body's defenses against flu.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said pregnant women in particular should take the drugs if they are diagnosed with swine flu -- even though the effects on the fetus are not completely known.

Pregnant women are more likely to suffer pneumonia when they catch flu, and flu infections have raised the risk of premature birth in past flu epidemics, experts said, pointing to the fact that a pregnant Texas woman who had A/H1N1 flu died last week.

For all these reasons, risks from the virus are greater than the unknown risks to the fetus from Tamiflu and Relenza, said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC.

"We really want to get the word out about the likely benefits of prompt antiviral treatment" for pregnant women, she said.


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