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FLASH: CDC: No public gatherings of 50 or more for 8 weeks

The CDC’s recommendation is clear:

CDC recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.

NEW YORK TIMES: CDC has grim prediction if coronavirus cases explode in U.S.

As the New York Times notes,

Between 160 million and 214 million people in the United States could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.

Widespread flu reported in 47 of 50 states

CBS News takes a look at the latest details surrounding this flu season, including examining how the effectiveness of the flu shot.

Twenty-four states and New York City have experienced high influenza activity, with 16 states reporting moderate activity. Last week’s report showed high activity in 29 states. A complete look at how your state stacks up can be found on the CDC’s website. …

The CDC also released a new study Jan. 11 in its journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, that found this year’s flu vaccine is about 62 percent effective. That’s based on test results collected from 1,155 children and adults who reported to doctors with respiratory infections.

The agency still says this year’s vaccine matches well to the strains that are out there, and recommends everyone over the age of 6 months gets a flu shot.

These numbers speak

And they tell us why recognizing, understanding and identifying appropriate strategies to combat autism are important. The Boston Globe examines a new report.

The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the United States is soaring, with roughly 1 in 88 being diagnosed with this condition, according to a new study released this morning by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This new figure reflects a 23 percent increase from data the public health agency released two years ago.

The study, based on 2008 data, shows that this developmental disorder, characterized typically by social and verbal delays, as well as repetitive behaviors, is five times more common among boys than girls — with 1 in 54 boys identified — and more common in white children than black and Hispanic children.

Flu – Tuesday

I sense a noticeable change today in media coverage of H1N1 — from reporting numbers and virulence, to now highlighting how to stop the next flu outbreak. While this kind of reporting is important, I’m left to wonder why it took so long.

As I’ve stated in multiple recent posts, the “chase the numbers” stories did little to assist the public in understanding the depth of the flu problem. Moreover, those numbers are subject to change almost by the minute. Thus, reporting 100 cases now requires an immediate update when it becomes 105, then 110, and so on. Again, chasing the numbers.

The New York Times offers the most obvious example of the dialing down of the fear factor, reporting that international health agencies are starting to deliver more positive messages about H1N1 and the potential for a pandemic.

TIME magazine notes that in order to knock out the next potential pandemic before it ever becomes that, better testing of animals is needed.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post suggests the culture of Mexico — including widespread efforts to try to care for oneself at home — likely contributed to the spread of the flu in that country. In a similar vein, The New York Times notes that everyday Mexicans feel they’re being unfairly singled out as the carriers of the disease. (They’re right, for what that opinion is worth.)

One thing hasn’t changed — the diplomatic tension between Mexico and China. The Mexican government will fly its nationals out of China today. They are among the hundreds who have been quarantined by the Chinese government after one person traveling to Hong Kong was diagnosed with H1N1. (Overreaction? Or necessary reaction after dealing with SARS six years ago?)