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US, other nations stop counting pandemic flu cases

October 9, 2009
by MIKE STOBBE
Associated Press

ATLANTA - U.S. health officials have lost track of how many illnesses and deaths have been caused by the first global flu epidemic in 40 years.

And they did it on purpose.

Government doctors stopped counting swine flu cases in July, when they estimated more than 1 million were infected in this country. The number of deaths has been sitting at more than 600 since early September. Health officials had previously counted lab-confirmed cases, though the tally was skewed because many people who got sick never were tested...

More comprehensive tracking is not possible with current resources and medical record-keeping, some public health advocates say.

"The fact that it is a challenge to come up with these data proves that we have underdeveloped surveillance systems in this country," said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, a Washington-based public health research organization.

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