Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was raising its pandemic alert level to Phase 6--the highest alert level in its system--and characterizing the pandemic as "moderate". What does this mean? This means that influenza A (H1N1)--also known as swine flu--has reached sustained community transmission in at least two WHO regions. In this case, the U.S. and Australia. The pandemic alert level simply means that there is widespread geographical spread, but few deaths. This is where the characterization "moderate" comes into play. Moderate simply means, there are many cases across geographical areas, but few severe cases requiring hospitalization and few deaths. The order of the day is not to panic, but to be vigilant.
To read WHO Director-General Margaret Chan's full statement to the media yesterday evening, go here. And to learn more about influenza A (H1N1), go here.
Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 06/09