Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic Phase Increased to Level 5

The WHO increased the Pandemic Phase Level to a phase 5 on Wednesday, April 29, 2009. A phase 5 alert means there is sustained transmission among people in at least two countries. The WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic.

“Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, “All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.”

MSNBC explains what level 5 means for society by stating “The change to a level 5 alert has little meaning for people living in the U.S. This country is already doing almost everything possible to track the spread of the virus, treat the victims and try to develop a vaccine. This is much more of an alert to other countries to start their own preparations for when the virus arrives.” If a Phase 6 would be declared, it would mean a global epidemic of a new and deadly disease.

Those planning to follow through with travel plans should take extreme caution. Vice President Biden stated to reporters that he would not advise his own family to travel by plane or subway as the air circulates through the craft and spreads germs quickly. Non-essential travel should be avoided.

The United States Government has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death as of the end of the day on April 29, 2009. According to the CDC and USA Today, ten U.S. states that have confirmed cases of the swine virus which include Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Texas.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland is reporting 6 likely cases in Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties. Confirmation the illnesses are swine flu have yet to be confirmed by the CDC. All 6 people had links to people who have traveled to Mexico.

The Univeristy of Delaware has 10 probable cases of swine flu. It was reported yesterday that ten students were experiencing mild flu-like symptoms. The students have been tested for the swine flu virus and are awaiting results to confirm that it is in fact the virus.

According to the WHO, the following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).

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