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WHO Says Swine Flu May Have Peaked In the US 138

Hugh Pickens writes "The World Health Organization says that there were 'early signs of a peak' in swine flu activity in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including the US. The American College Health Association, which surveys more than 250 colleges with more than three million students, said new flu cases had dropped 27 percent in the week ending on November 13th from the week before, the first drop since school resumed in the fall. Nonetheless, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of vaccination and respiratory disease at the CDC, chose her words carefully. 'We are in better shape today than we were a couple of weeks ago,' she says. 'I wish I knew if we had hit the peak. Even if a peak has occurred, half the people who are going to get sick haven't gotten sick yet.' Privately, federal health officials say they fear that if they concede the flu has peaked, Americans will become complacent and lose interest in getting vaccinated, increasing the chances of another wave. However, Dr. Lone Simonsen, a former CDC epidemiologist, says she expects a third wave in December or January, possibly beginning in the South again. Based on death rates in New York City and in Scandinavia, Simonsen argues that both 1918 and 1957 had mild spring waves followed by two stronger waves, one in fall and one in midwinter, adding that in the pandemic of 1889, the bulk of the deaths occurred in the third wave. 'If people think it's going away, they can think again.'"

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