Swine Flu Hits Highest Pandemic Level

Published: June 10, 2009



Important Pandemic Flu Links

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the pandemic warning level from phase 5 to 6, officially declaring the H1N1 influenza as a pandemic. WHO has reported that 74 countries have 27,737 confirmed swine flu cases, resulting in 141 deaths worldwide.

The pandemic declaration will encourage drug makers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine and prompt governments to devote more money toward efforts to contain the virus, reported the Associated Press.

While considered a pandemic, the swine flu is generally mild in most cases and requires no treatment. However, the virus has targeted healthy young adults who typically are not infected by the common flu. WHO officials are concerned that a spike in new infections could overwhelm hospitals. Additionally, the virulence of the strain could increase in the fall.

The 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic killed about 1 million people. Ordinary flu kills about 250,000 to 500,000 people each year, according to Fox News.

In the United States, where there have been more than 13,000 cases and at least 27 deaths from swine flu, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the pandemic declaration would not change how the U.S. handled the virus.

According to the CDC, the largest number of cases to date has been in 5-24 year olds (57 percent). School children are at the greatest risk and would be the first target for any potential vaccination program.

Any potential mass vaccination program this fall would constitute one of the nation’s largest ever logistical and communication efforts.

Health and Human Services (HHS) has spent $1.4 Billion in recent weeks buying bulk antigen and other vaccine components and is seeking additional funds in the Supplemental Appropriations Bill.

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