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Thursday, June 11, 2009

H1N1 Pandemic Margaret Chan Declares Swine Flu is Phase 6

Today, the World Health Organizations Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, made these statements to the press:

In late April, WHO announced the emergence of a novel influenza A virus.
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.
We know that the novel H1N1 virus preferentially infects younger people. In nearly all areas with large and sustained outbreaks, the majority of cases have occurred in people under the age of 25 years.
In some of these countries, around 2% of cases have developed severe illness, often with very rapid progression to life-threatening pneumonia.
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.
Many, though not all, severe cases have occurred in people with underlying chronic conditions. Based on limited, preliminary data, conditions most frequently seen include respiratory diseases, notably asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and obesity.
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.
Without question, pregnant women are at increased risk of complications. This heightened risk takes on added importance for a virus, like this one, that preferentially infects younger age groups.
To read the full announcement please visit the WHO website.

Phase 6, the pandemic phase, is characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region in addition to the criteria defined in Phase 5.

Please remember to follow these CDC guidelines to stay healthy:

1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
4. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
5. If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
6. Be sure to use our health care provider locator on WhereToFindCare.com. Our website contains addresses, phone numbers, quality information, user ratings, driving directions, and more much for U.S. health care providers, such as hospitals, urgent care walk-in clinics, and free clinics, and federally qualified health clinics.

*Information on WhereToFindCare.com is for informational purposes only. Always seek medical advice from your physician. In cases of emergency, seek care from an emergency health care provider.

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