H1N1 flu cases rise

ZURICH (Reuters) - The number of confirmed cases of the new Influenza A (H1N1) flu has climbed to 8,480 and the death toll has remained static at 72, the World Health Organisation said in its latest update on Sunday.

The confirmation of cases in India, Malaysia and Turkey brought the number of countries with confirmed cases of H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, to 39, the WHO said.

The vast majority of cases have been in Mexico and the United States. The spread of the disease has led the WHO to declare a pandemic is imminent. On April 29 it raised its pandemic alert to 5 on a 6-level scale.

The virus is behaving much like a seasonal influenza strain, which kills 500,000 annually, by spreading rapidly and causing mainly mild disease, but severe illness in some people.

The WHO said Mexico has reported 2,895 confirmed cases including 66 deaths. The United States has reported 4,714 confirmed cases including four deaths. Canada has 496 confirmed cases and Costa Rica nine cases, both with one death.

The WHO's tally lags national reports but is considered more secure. Rising numbers can indicate that a backlog of cases is being processed, as well as the spread of the disease.

The number of cases of H1N1 flu virus in Japan climbed to 17 on Sunday, a health ministry official said, against seven listed in the WHO figures.

Counterparts in China said the country's capital, Beijing, had its first case.

(Reporting by Jason Rhodes)

Article Published: 17/05/2009