LOS ANGELES, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Los Angeles County's chief health officer said on Friday that A/H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, does not appear to be any more deadly than regular seasonal influenza.
"The current situation is certainly one of concern, but not alarm," said Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding.
"At this point, what we have looks very similar in severity to seasonal influenza," Fielding said.
He called the A/H1N1 flu "basically a mild and moderate disease, predominately."
"I don't think that this strain, based on the limited knowledge we have to date, is more concerning than other strains, and I'm particularly happy to see a pattern of illness which is not worse than the seasonal influenza," he said.
Fielding said the potential for the disease to become a "pandemic" should not overly frighten residents, pointing out that the term describes the range of the disease rather than its severity.
But Fielding warned that the potential does exist for the virus to mutate, possibly into something more deadly.
"Flu viruses can mutate," he said. "Whether that'll make it worse or better we don't know whether it'll change to a significant degree, we don't know. That's why we're monitoring the situation carefully, as is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the World Health Organization."
The timing of the outbreak is somewhat fortuitous for the United States, he said, pointing out that as the weather gets hotter the spread of flu tends to slacken.
Fielding also said that although no cases of swine flu cases have been confirmed in Los Angeles, "we expect to have them within the next couple of days."
"As we've said, we cannot have such a large population and so much traffic back and forth to Mexico and not have some of this disease," he said.
In California, at least 17 cases have been confirmed in California so far as of Friday, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Nationwide, some 151 cases of swine flu have been confirmed, with one death, according to the CDC.