WHO declares first 21st century flu pandemic 2009.06.11 15:41:39 Worldwide The World Health Organization declared the first flu pandemic of the 21st century on Thursday, Sweden’s health ministry said. The health ministry said the United Nations agency was raising its pandemic flu alert to the top phase 6 on a six-point scale, indicating the first influenza pandemic since 1968 is under way. “Today… the Minister for Elderly Care and Public Health Maria Larsson has called a press conference following a decision by the WHO to raise the pandemic level to six for the influenza A H1N1 virus,” the ministry said in a statement. WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan was due to give a news conference on the influenza (A) H1N1 pandemic at 1600 GMT, following a meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee of flu experts, and WHO spokesmen declined to comment before that. The move will trigger heightened health measures in the WHO’s 193 member states as authorities brace for the worldwide spread of the virus that has so far caused mainly mild illness. The move to phase 6 reflects the fact that the disease, widely known as swine flu, was spreading geographically, but not necessarily indicate how virulent it is. “Phase 6, if we call a phase 6, doesn’t mean anything concerning severity, it is concerning geographic spread … Pandemic means global, but it doesn’t have any connotation of severity or mildness,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said. “In fact, what we are seeing with this virus so far is overwhelmingly to date mild disease. So we would think that this event is really a moderate event for the time being, because the numbers are high but the disease is overwhelmingly mild,” he told Reuters Television before the committee meeting. David Heymann, a former top WHO official now chairing Britain’s Health Protection Agency, said that countries had tried to contain the virus through measures including school closures during the previous phase 5. This has extended the precious time needed to prepare for a full-blown pandemic. “During phase 5, the government and people in the U.K. have had the time to prepare for a pandemic — this has hopefully decreased any surprise and concern that might be associated with a WHO announcement of phase 6, if one is made,” he told Reuters. As it spreads in humans, science cannot predict what course the virus will take, the disease it causes and the age groups infected, Heymann said. “The severity of that disease, the effectiveness of antiviral drugs and the stability of the virus must all be watched closely,” he added. A pandemic could cause enormous disruption to business as workers stay home because they are sick or to look after family members and authorities restrict gatherings of large numbers of people or movement of people or goods. World markets shrugged off the possibility of a pandemic, as investors focused on possible global economic recovery.
This being said… I would like to point out that one reason they did this was because of the death of the toddler in Texas, saying deaths have now occurred in two countries… however… the toddler, from what I have just read, was already living in Mexico and traveled here to visit relatives in Texas. He later died in a Houston hospital. That is not the same as someone who is living here and just suddenly acquires it… he was already living in Mexico where the outbreak was hardest hit.
Yes, the whole situation is scary enough, but this makes it sound even scarier, the way it is being reported. So far in all the other cases/countries, it is behaving like a “normal” flu pretty much, and the symptoms have been mild. I don’t know why it hit Mexico so hard, unless it is because, bless their hearts, of the sanitation problems there. I have read of this problem in the country and that it severely weakens people’s immunities… many there die from other diseases quite a bit, such as TB, and even leprosy occurs in some areas there. They may have been poorly prepared for sickness even before this hard-hitting virus came along. And when it did, it hit them incredibly hard. This is just my opinion.
It also occurs to me… some are saying they are expecting a second wave. If so many have been exposed to it, in a non-lethal way, have gotten sick only mildly with it… then doesn’t that mean that if a second wave comes along… their bodies would have some natural immunity to it built up?
Below is the headline about the WHO, and remember to click here http://www.idemc.org/read/index.php?pageid=news_index for the very latest updates on the swine flu spread.
UPDATE*** WHO have just changed the name of the virus to Influenza A (H1N1) – post follows
WHO boosts pandemic alert level to 5
2009.04.30 03:38:49 Global
The World Health Organization on Wednesday raised its global pandemic alert level to five — its second highest level — meaning a pandemic is imminent and countries must finalize preparations to deal with the outbreak of swine flu.
WHO changes flu virus strain name from swine flu
2009.04.30 19:12:48 Worldwide
The World Health Organisation (WHO), bowing to pressure from meat industry producers and concerned governments, said on Thursday it would refer to a deadly new virus strain as influenza A (H1N1) not swine flu. “From today, WHO will refer to the new influenza virus as ‘influenza A (H1N1)’,” it said in a brief announcement posted on its www.who.int/en/ website.
Updates are ongoing and constant…
for the LATEST NATIONWIDE UPDATES – new ones are received as they are reported:
Found this of definite interest right now… from the RSOE EDIS Pandemic Monitoring System. It tracks constantly the spread of the swine flu in real time.
*UPDATE TUESDAY MORNING, 5:21 am* It says we are at Level 4 Pandemic alert right now.