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H1N1 flu tests down 75 percent

MADISON, N.J., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- H1N1 flu is on the decline, but close to 4-in-10 U.S. children tested positive last week for the pandemic, officials of a laboratory testing company say.

A report by Quest Diagnostics Inc., a leading provider of diagnostic testing services, released Friday said the rates of H1N1 influenza virus testing in the United States has declined more than 75 percent since the second peak in late October.

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Dr. Jay M. Lieberman, medical director of infectious diseases at Quest Diagnostics, said the data suggests the "second wave" of virus infection that began four months ago may be coming to an end.

"Our data are a welcome indication that H1N1 may not be the health threat during the holidays that it has been throughout the fall," Lieberman said in a statement.

"Many millions of people remain susceptible to the virus, which continues to cause serious disease in some individuals, however, the prospect of a third wave of virus activity next year means it is far too soon to declare victory over H1N1."

Quest analyzed results of nearly 170,000 de-identified patient specimens it tested for the H1N1 virus between May 11, when the company introduced its first test for detecting the pandemic virus, and Dec. 9.

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The report is at: Quest Diagnostics.com/HealthTrends.

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