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One in three could contract swine flu

13th May 2009

Experts predict that a third of the world’s population could be infected with swine flu.

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They believe swine flu has full pandemic potential and is likely to go global in the next few months.

However, while saying one in three people who come into contact are likely to become infected, the team from the Imperial College London has declined to estimate the death toll.

Lead researcher Professor Neil Ferguson, who sits on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) emergency committee for the outbreak, said it was too early to say whether the virus will cause deaths on a massive scale or prove little more lethal than normal seasonal flu.

But he added: "This virus really does have full pandemic potential. It is likely to spread around the world in the next six to nine months and when it does so it will affect about one-third of the world's population.

"To put that into context, normal seasonal flu probably affects around 10% of the world's population every year, so we are heading for a flu season which is perhaps three times worse than usual."

The study, published in the journal Science, is based on Mexico's experience.

Latest WHO figures show confirmed cases have reached 5,251 in 30 countries with 61 deaths from the disease.

Professor Ferguson’s analysis suggests the H1N1 virus is as dangerous as the virus behind a 1957 pandemic that killed two million people worldwide but not as lethal as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which claimed an estimated 50 million lives.

 

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