U.S. health officials are cautiously optimistic that the new swine flu isn't as dangerous as first feared, but urged people to keep taking commonsense precautions and they can't predict if it will roar back in the fall.
"The good news is when we look at this virus right now, we're not seeing some of the things in the virus that have been associated in the past with more severe flu. That's encouraging, but it doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet," said Richard Besser, acting chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With swine flu, or the H1N1 flu as the government prefers to call it, now in 21 states and counting, authorities say it's spreading just as easily as regular winter flu. But, as Besser made the rounds of the five Sunday talk shows with the president's health and homeland security chiefs, they said that doesn't seem to cause as severe disease as it did in Mexico, where there are signs the outbreak is waning.
The latest tally from the CDC shows 226 confirmed cases across 30 states, and Mexico's health secretary said the epidemic in his country "is in its declining phase."
But the CDC says its own count is outdated almost as soon as it's announced. More cases are being confirmed daily. About one-third so far are people who had been to Mexico and probably picked up the infection there. Many newly infected people are getting the illness in the U.S., and the CDC says it probably still is spreading.
"It's a rapidly evolving situation and it's still one that is cloaked in uncertainty," Besser said. "But each day we're getting more information ... and we're starting to see encouraging signs."