WHO director says swine flu in southwest has pandemic potential

April 25, 2009

(ChattahBox) The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned for several years that a new flu strain could spark a human influenza pandemic, i.e. a virus that could sweep around the globe and kill millions.

The head of Who director-general Margaret Chan said on Saturday, that the recent outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and the United States has the potential to cause such a worldwide pandemic.

Chan noted that no outbreaks have been reported elsewhere, but urged health authorities in all countries to be on high alert for unusual patterns of disease and any rise in severe flu or pneumonia cases.

“This is clearly an animal strain of the H1N1 virus and it has pandemic potential because it is infecting people,” Chan said on a teleconference.

“However, we cannot say on the basis of currently available laboratory, epidemiological, and clinical evidence whether or not it will indeed cause a pandemic.”

The new H1N1 flu strain is a mixture of swine, human and avian flu viruses which has killed up to 68 people among 1,004 suspected cases in Mexico and infected eight in the United States, is still poorly understood and the situation is evolving quickly, Chan said.

WHO could recommend declaring an international public health emergency, which could have major global implications on travel and trade. It could also raise its “pandemic alert level,” which is currently at level three. That level means very limited spread of virus from person to person.

As we reported yesterday, while at least eight cases have been found in California and Texas near the border, more than 800 cases and at least 60 deaths have been reported in Mexico.  The outbreak in Mexico is mainly occurring in the capital of Mexico City and appears to be striking young, healthy adults, which is very worrisome. WHO has dispatched a team of experts to assist Mexican authorities, who have shut down schools, museums, libraries and advised residents to stay home.


2 Responses to “WHO director says swine flu in southwest has pandemic potential”

  1. Nomad on April 26th, 2009 2:52 am

    wow, how did this spread all the way to NYC so fast? That reminds me, I think now would be a good time to increase my daily dosage of Vitamin C and any other kind of immune system booster I can find

  2. t in texas on April 26th, 2009 4:56 pm

    there is a good possibility this is a man made strain , and is bio terrorism……delivered in mexico somehow and dispersed at the airport in some fashion where thousands come and go daily ……and possibly ment to get the obama bunch primarily……but also to infect america and other countries being just colaterial damage.
    one thing for sure, government will never admit it , unless they have to……us citizens will have to figure it out….this question was already asked today and gov. offiicals would not rule it out…..

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