Thursday, July 16, 2009

(MY099) Australia's "worst case scenario" 6,000 H1N1 deaths

SYDNEY (Reuters) – As many as 6,000 people could die from H1N1 in Australia this season in a "worst case scenario" if no preventive measures or vaccines are found, Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon said on Thursday.

The H1N1 influenza has killed 21 people in Australia so far and there are 10,387 confirmed cases, according to data compiled by Australia's health department.

"We could expect around 6,000 deaths across the country," Roxon told local radio. "That is the really worst case scenario that is being projected at the moment."

Each year a few thousand Australians die from influenza.

The World Health Organization has confirmed 429 deaths and 94,512 cases of H1N1, declared a pandemic last month. But these numbers represent only a fraction of the real cases.

Swine flu is the dominant flu in Australia this southern hemisphere winter and authorities say they have ordered 21 million doses of swine flu vaccine still under development.

They say that should be enough for half the 21 million population with multiple doses.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says at least a million people have been infected with H1N1 and the virus is spreading out of control.

Disease control experts say the death rate from H1N1 is similar to the death rate from seasonal influenza, which kills anywhere between 250,000 and 500,000 people globally each year.

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