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CDC leery of estimates about swine flu’s toll

Swine Flu News

CDC leery of estimates about swine flu’s toll

swine flu virusBy LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard

WASHINGTON – Government health officials are urging people not to panic over estimates of 90,000 people dying from swine flu this fall. "Everything we’ve seen in the U.S. and everything we’ve seen around the world suggests we won’t see that kind of number if the virus doesn’t change," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While the swine flu seems quite easy to catch, it so far hasn’t been more deadly than the flu strains seen every fall and winter — many people have only mild illness. And close genetic tracking of the new virus as it circled the globe over the last five months so far has shown no sign that it’s mutating to become more virulent.

Still, the CDC has been preparing for a worst-case flu season as a precaution — in July working from an estimate slightly more grim than one that made headlines this week — to make sure that if the virus suddenly worsened or vaccination plans fell through, health authorities would know how to react.

On Monday the White House released a report from a group of presidential advisers that included a scenario where anywhere from 30 percent to half of the population could catch what doctors call the "2009 H1N1" flu, and death possibilities ranged from 30,000 to 90,000. In a regular flu season, up to 20 percent of the population is infected and 36,000 die…

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