H1N1 flu still out there, officials caution

WASHINGTON — H1N1 flu is still circulating around the world and still killing people, although it is on the decline everywhere, global health officials said Feb. 5.

The H1N1 strain is the dominant form of influenza globally, but some seasonal strains are starting to emerge in China and Africa, the World Health Organization reported.

"Many people believe the outbreak is over and I think it is too soon for us to have that complacency," Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters in a telephone briefing. "This pandemic isn't over yet."

The CDC said nine more children had been reported killed by H1N1 last week. It estimates that as many as 80 million Americans have been infected with H1N1 flu and about 11,000 people have died.

Schuchat said 70 million Americans had been vaccinated against H1N1, which leaves the U.S. government with millions of unused doses because 155 million have been shipped and 229 million ordered from five makers — AstraZeneca unit MedImmune, Sanofi Aventis, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and CSL.

Schuchat said it is easy to be vaccinated now, after severe shortages of vaccine last year, and she urged Americans to get the vaccine.

"It's just impossible for me to say whether we will have a very large peak in disease," she said.

"But we don't seem to be seeing the disappearance of this virus, and we haven't seen the emergence of the seasonal strain ... so I think this virus is going to be finding susceptible people."