Geneva - The global death toll from swine flu has hit at least 4,999, the World Health Organization said Friday.
In a situation update, the WHO said that, in North America, the United States was reporting nationwide rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) "well above baseline rates, with high rates of pandemic H1N1 2009 virus detections in clinical laboratory specimens."
Canada too had increased ILI rates for the fourth straight week, while Mexico still reported active transmission in some areas of the country.
In Europe, influenza activity was deemed low. But in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and parts of Britain, ILI rates were above baseline levels. Israel, which the UN also groups with Europe, also has high rates.
"Similarly the number of influenza virus detections (are) relatively high, which may indicate the early start of an influenza season."
Of note, the WHO said, the proportion of cases in Asia that are related to seasonal influenza continued to decline generally as the proportion related to pandemic H1N1 2009 virus increased.
In tropical areas of the world, rates of illness are generally declining, with a few exceptions, namely Cuba, Colombia, and El Salvador.
The temperate region of the southern hemisphere has no significant pandemic activity, the WHO said. (dpa)
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