- - Saturday, October 24, 2009

Swine flu deaths more than 1,000 in U.S.

ATLANTA — Federal health officials say swine flu is more widespread now than it’s ever been and has resulted in more than 1,000 deaths so far in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday there is as much illness now as in the winter peak of regular flu seasons.

Public demand for the new swine flu vaccine has caused long lines and frustration in several parts of the country. But worries about flu have also prompted record interest in seasonal flu vaccine as well. About 60 million people have been vaccinated, an unprecedented number for October. Most seasonal flu shots usually aren’t given until later in the fall.

CDC officials said nearly 100 pediatric swine flu deaths have been reported.

In a separate statement Friday, the World Health Organization reported more than 414,000 laboratory confirmed cases of H1N1 worldwide, with nearly 5,000 deaths.

In the U.S., 46 states now have widespread flu activity. The only states without widespread flu are Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and South Carolina.

There are at least two different types of flu causing illnesses; tests from about 5,000 patients suggest that nearly all the flu cases are swine flu.

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine won’t protect against swine flu; a separate swine flu vaccine is needed. Vaccine production takes several months, and the work on seasonal vaccine was already well under way when swine flu was first identified in April. It was too late for the swine flu virus to be included in the seasonal doses.

Because of swine flu production delays, the government has backed off initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million vaccine doses would be available by mid-October. As of Wednesday, only 11 million doses had been shipped to health departments, doctors’ offices and other providers across the country, CDC officials said.

“It’s frustrating to all of us. We wish there were more vaccine available,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden said.

Priest found slain in church rectory

CHATHAM, N.J. — A Catholic priest was found slain Friday morning in his clerical robes in the rectory of his northern New Jersey parish.

Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi would not say how the Rev. Ed Hinds, 61, was killed, but he said the body had wounds “consistent with a homicide.” No one has been arrested.

Father Hinds’ body, dressed in vestments, was found around 8 a.m. Friday in the rectory attached to St. Patrick’s Church in Chatham, a New York City bedroom community, after he didn’t show up to celebrate morning Mass.

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