The following information comes from today's press conference with Dr. Besser, Acting Director of the CDC.
Stats for the United States:
- 279 confirmed cases in 36 states
- > 99% of probable cases so far have tested positive
- > 700 probable cases in 44 states
- Median age of confirmed cases: 16 years old
- Age range for confirmed cases: 3 months to 81yrs
- 62% of confirmed cases are in patients < 18 years old
- The most recent confirmed case occurred on May 1st
- 35 known hospitalizations
- 1 known death
Because probable cases are so likely to be confirmed when they are tested, they provide us with a more clear and timely picture of where we stand in the way of actual infections right now than the number of confirmed cases.
No matter what the situation, the "confirmed" number will always lag behind reality, but right now it's lagging even further behind because of the significant backlog of samples to be tested. This is inevitable when a novel pathogen emerges and a new test has to be invented to deal with it; the CDC's public health laboratory scientists have exceeded any rational expectations in the speed and the quality of their response.
Dr. Besser said that the CDC intends to start reporting probable cases on its website the near future.
He also said that the number of probable cases is likely an underestimation of the real number, as well, because the CDC's definition of a probable case requires that a person have flu-like symptoms and test positive for Influenza A, but negative for the H1 & H3 subtypes --and we know this testing is not happening for every person with influenza-like illness (ILI).
The CDC is now rolling out H1N1 Swine Flu test kits to the states, so state public health laboratories will be able to test for the virus. Over time, this will help to reduce the backlog for confirming cases, but states will still not be able to test all possible or even probable cases.
That's okay, though, because the point isn't to ensure that we confirm all cases of the disease, it's to ensure that we know where, when, and in whom the virus is spreading. --That's the data we need to make sure we're taking the right steps in the right places to protect the public.