Phase 6 Imminent!

The WHO is reportedly gearing up for a declaration of pandemic phase 6.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  CNN is reporting that the WHO has scheduled an emergency meeting for today.  If the WHO declares a pandemic Thursday, it will be the first flu pandemic in 41 years.

“What this would mean is that spread of the virus has continued and that activity has become established in at least two regions of the world…It does not mean that the severity of the situation has increased and that people are getting seriously sick at higher numbers or higher rates than they are right now. This is a very important point for countries to understand.”

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WHO to Raise Pandemic Level Soon!

From the LA Times:

The number of confirmed cases of the disease rose above 1,200 in Australia on Monday and the virus is no longer restricted to schools and other institutions in that country, suggesting that a community-wide spread has begun. Such a spread in a region outside North America is the primary criterion for raising the alert level to Phase 6…

…they are concerned that infections continue in North America and Europe, even though the traditional flu season has ended in the Northern Hemisphere. “The disease patterns are not what we see from seasonal influenza,” he said. That suggests that the virus has greater capability for spread than does the seasonal flu virus.

The majority of the infections have been in people younger than 60, which is also different from seasonal flu. That suggests, some experts said, that older people may have been exposed to a different swine flu virus in the past that has conferred some immunity.

About half of the people who have died from the virus were previously healthy, with no underlying medical conditions. “That is one of the observations that has given us the most concern,” he said. “We don’t know why they died and why other people recovered. We are looking for clues.”

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The End of the World!

The WHO will probably raise the alert level to PHASE 6 soon.  This is very exciting, if for no other reason than it is the highest rating on the scale , and that is always an exciting landmark to have reached.  BUT- WHO chief Margaret Chan says:

“Level 6 does not mean, in any way, that we are facing the end of the world. It is important to make this clear because (otherwise) when we announce level 6 it will cause an unnecessary panic…Flu viruses are very unpredictable, very deceptive … We should not be over-confident. One must not give H1N1 the opportunity to mix with other viruses. That is why we are on alert.”

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Mixed Messages; I’m Still Uneasy

Along with announcing new confirmed cases of swine flu, the WHO also added that there does not seem to be any sign on sustained global spread of the disease.  (This is a little bit of a letdown for me, the way they had been building it up and such but oh well.)  But the director of the WHO, Michael Ryan also says, “At the present time, I would still propose that a pandemic is imminent because we are seeing transmission to other countries..We have to expect that Phase 6 will be reached. We have to hope that it is not.”

It is important to remember that Phase 6 is not a code-word for THE INFECTED ARE EVERYWHERE HIDE IN YOUR HOMES! but instead, the geographic phase of a disease, which can be mild, medium, or severe.

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