U.S. swine flu hits all 50 states

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cases of the new H1N1 flu virus have been found in all 50 U.S. states and tests have confirmed the virus in more than 10,000 people across the country, U.S. officials said on Monday.

A researcher works on a vaccine for H1N1 flu virus at the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia May 6, 2009. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the confirmed tests represent about one in 20 of the actual number of infections, which would bring the total number of U.S. cases to around 200,000.

California health officials reported the state’s first two deaths from the swine flu virus, bringing the nationwide total to 19 fatalities.

Both involved middle-aged people, a man from San Bernardino County and a woman from Los Angeles County, who had pre-existing medical conditions.

“While, overall, we have seen predominantly mild flu cases in the state, these fatalities remind us that all flu viruses can be deadly, including the H1N1 flu,” Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

California has identified 802 people with confirmed or probable cases of the disease, with 47 requiring hospitalization.

Most of those hospitalized had underlying medical conditions that included lung disease, weakened immune systems and heart disease, and a smaller number had diabetes or were obese or pregnant.

The virus, which spreads easily and causes mostly mild disease, has been diagnosed in 17,564 people in 64 countries, killing 115, according to the World Health Organization.

It was found this week in patients in Bulgaria, Vietnam and Jamaica.

Although H1N1 swine flu appears mild, it affects mostly older children and young adults, and experts worry it could change into a more dangerous form.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Maggie Fox; editing by Mohammad Zargham