WHO Declares H1N1 Flu Pandemic

Last Thursday, June 11, the World Health Organization declared the new influenza A H1N1 (formerly known as swine flu) a pandemic. This novel virus strain has not previously circulated in the human population. Although declared as “moderate”, the speed at which it has spread, and the potential for a much more virulent form to develop spurred this declaration. No restrictions on travel or border closures have been declared. (Up-to-date survellance reports can be viewed here: FluView for the US or data from the World Health Organization.)

“Influenza pandemics, whether moderate or severe, are remarkable events because of the almost universal susceptibility of the world’s population to infection,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Fortunately, most people who have become ill with this virus have recovered without medical treatment. A vaccine is being developed, but it is not expected to be widely available until after the next flu season begins. In the meantime, what can you do to protect yourself?

PositiveTip: Stay informed, take everyday precautions to stay healthy, wash your hands with soap and water, deal positively with your stresses, get regular physical exercise, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and get adequate sleep.