HOUSTON, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of the A/H1N1 flu in the southeast U.S. State of Florida had nearly doubled in the past two weeks, the state health officials reported Thursday.
As of Wednesday, Floridians who died of the new virus reached 41, from 22 two weeks ago, according to local health officials.
Miami-Dade County is the hardest-hit with 15 deaths since May. The latest victims reported in Miami-Dade County were 59- and 53-year-old men. No further information about them was released.
Wednesday is seen as a black day when nine new deaths were reported in Miami-Dade, Osceola, Hillsborough, Orange and Lee counties.
Since the pandemic declaration on June 11 by World Health Organization (WHO), the A/H1N1 flu has been spreading rapidly in the state.
The death toll and the conformed cases of the new virus have almost doubled in every two weeks, although most people who have become ill have recovered without requiring medical treatment.
If state health projections hold true, some 160 Lee County residents and 5,000 Floridians will die from the A/H1N1 flu in the next 18 months to two years, the average life cycle of a pandemic, said Jennifer James-Mesloh, the Lee County Health Department spokeswoman.
That's twice as many deaths as Lee County sees in a typical flu season, she added. "I think we do have to be more vigilant than we would in the past," said the spokeswoman. "We don't know if this virus is going to change on us. We don't know if it's going to mutate."
She said she does not want to spark public panic, but to remind people that they can take steps to prevent flu -- frequent handwashing, staying home when sick, getting vaccinated when the inoculations become available this fall.
The rapid increase of fatalities from the A/H1N1 virus seems unpredicted by the health officials and local citizens in the state.
The state surgeon general Viamonte Ros said recently that Florida is preparing for massive A/H1N1 flu immunizations, starting with schoolchildren when they return school later this month.
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