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Swine flu cases rise sharply in Japan

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The number of swine flu cases in Japan is rising rapidly, according to data from the World Health Organisation.

A total of 118 cases have officially been recorded in the last two days, according to the WHO. The total number of infections in Japan now stands at 125.

Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said last night that the world was still on pandemic alert level five (out of a possible six).

She also revealed that the H1N1 influenza A virus often leads to diarrhoea and vomiting, which could be another way the disease could spread.

Dr Chan told world leaders at the 62nd World Health Assembly in Geneva: ‘A striking feature of some of the current outbreaks is the presence of diarrhoea or vomiting in as many as 25% of cases. This is unusual.

‘If virus shedding is detected in faecal matter, this would introduce an additional route of transmission. The significance could be especially great in areas with inadequate sanitation, including crowded urban shanty towns.‘

According to latest figures, there have been 8,829 confirmed cases of swine flu in 40 countries, including 74 deaths.

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