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Updated: August 29, 2009 17:30 IST

Swine flu down in Southern Hemisphere: WHO

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In this August 10, 2009 photo shows research nurse Wendy Nesheim drawing H1N1 flu vaccine into a syringe to administer to volunteer participants during first of several clinical trials conducted by Emory University in Atlanta.
AP In this August 10, 2009 photo shows research nurse Wendy Nesheim drawing H1N1 flu vaccine into a syringe to administer to volunteer participants during first of several clinical trials conducted by Emory University in Atlanta.

The World Heath Organisation said on Friday that swine flu infections are declining in the Southern Hemisphere as its seasonal flu period comes to an end and the pandemic shifts back north.

Countries in the Northern Hemisphere that have already had one wave of swine flu should prepare for a second wave, which may be worse, the agency said.

"The H1N1 pandemic virus has rapidly established itself and is now the dominant influenza strain in most parts of the world," WHO said in a statement. "The pandemic will persist in the coming months as the virus continues to move through susceptible populations."

Flu levels remain elevated in South Africa and Bolivia and many of these cases are probably swine flu, it said. But in most of the Southern Hemisphere, flu levels have returned to normal, said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl.

More than 2,00,000 people worldwide have caught swine flu and at least 2,185 died of it, according to WHO. The real caseload is much higher because countries are no longer reporting individual cases.

Mr. Hartl said the agency was watching flu rates in Japan, where it believes that the high season for infections is starting earlier than normal.

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