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WHO raises world flu alert to pandemic

The world health organisation has today raised the Influenza alert level to 6, the highest level, indicating a pandemic is underway. They rate the 2009 flu pandemic as currently moderate, with most people recovering, and I quote:

This particular H1N1 strain has not circulated previously in humans. The virus is entirely new.
The virus is contagious, spreading easily from one person to another, and from one country to another.
As of today, nearly 30,000 confirmed cases have been reported in 74 countries.
… I have therefore decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6. The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.
… On present evidence, the overwhelming majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a rapid and full recovery, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment. Worldwide, the number of deaths is small. Each and every one of these deaths is tragic, and we have to brace ourselves to see more. However, we do not expect to see a sudden and dramatic jump in the number of severe or fatal infections.
… Most cases of severe and fatal infections have been in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
This pattern is significantly different from that seen during epidemics of seasonal influenza, when most deaths occur in frail elderly people. … At the same time, it is important to note that around one third to half of the severe and fatal infections are occurring in previously healthy young and middle-aged people.

Read more details in the World Health Organisation press release.

This is also a timely reminder to people who work in office spaces about coughing/sneezing not into your hands, but the best cloth at hand. Two years ago at the start of the Flu season in Australia I blogged about the benefits of using your sleeves for catching germs.

The WHO has more details on the H1N1 strain of the Flu. There are also details on the current severity of this strain.