WHO Gives Up on Counting Swine Flu Cases

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2009 1:51 PM CDT
Tourists, some wearing face masks as a precaution against swine flu, arrive at the Buenos Aires international airport.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The World Health Organization today instructed member nations to stop counting cases of the rapidly spreading swine flu pandemic and focus instead on the most serious, Reuters reports. “Trying to register and report every single case is a huge waste of resources,” a spokesman said. Authorities should continue to report clusters of infections, unusual cases, and “a more severe disease pattern.”

“The 2009 influenza pandemic has spread internationally with unprecedented speed,” the WHO says. “In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks.” Given the worldwide scope, close tracking is no longer valuable, and the WHO will stop reporting global numbers, focusing instead on information from newly affected countries.