30 April 2009

WHO raises swine flu global pandemic alert level to 4

UPDATE 4/30/9: The World Health Organization just raised the alert level yet again -- swine flu pandemic alert level is now at 5, the second highest level.

My blog has been receiving lots of traffic from Google Search and CNN.com with regards to the swine flu so I decided to do a follow-up blog post. The latest major news about it is that World Health Organization (WHO) raised the swine flu global pandemic alert level to 4. The question is, what does it mean to the common people? Read on and find out!

Source: World Health Organization

Phase 1: “No viruses circulating among animals have been reported to cause infections in humans.”

Phase 2: “An animal influenza virus circulating among domesticated or wild animals is known to have caused infection in humans, and is therefore considered a potential pandemic threat.”

Phase 3: An animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus (a combination of at least two other viruses, as WSJ explains) has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but there haven’t been “community-level” outbreaks. This “limited transmission” doesn’t mean that the virus is spreading easily enough among humans to cause a pandemic.

Phase 4: A reassortant virus is causing community-level outbreaks, meaning there are sustained disease outbreaks in a community. This marks a “significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic.” However, a pandemic isn’t necessarily a forgone conclusion.

Phase 5: There is human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. Most countries aren’t affected at this stage, but declaration of Phase 5 is a “strong signal that a pandemic is imminent.” There is little time remaining to finish the organization, communication and implementation of the planned mitigation measures.

Phase 6: In addition to the countries affected in Phase 5, there are community-level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region. A global pandemic is occurring.
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