Pandemic Declaration 'Imminent,' Says WHOThe H1N1 flu has spread to 30 states, and the number of countries with confirmed cases has risen to 20 from two in less than a week. Declaration of a pandemic is imminent, says the World Health Organization, even as the Mexican president says his country is beating the virus and may return to normal this week.
Also called "swine flu," the virus is probably in all states, says Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Schuchat, interim deputy of the CDC, says she is particularly concerned about what will happen when the flu season starts in the Northern Hemisphere. That usually begins in the fall, around late September.
The declaration of a pandemic is imminent, WHO stated over the weekend, with global health officials now braced for a worsening of the disease. Mexico, where the flu virus is suspected of first being spread, has been hardest hit with 22 deaths and 590 infections.
Schuchat says despite that news, the US isn't out of the woods yet, saying she expects more cases, more severe cases and more deaths. H1N1 has also been confirmed in Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand.
Mexico's outbreak may have peaked last week, says Mexican Health Minister Jose Cordova, as patients are responding well to antiviral treatments. The virus has been found in 23 of the 31 Mexican states and the capital district. Despite that news, WHO's director-general Margaret Chan warns the declining mortality rate doesn't mean the threat of a pandemic has subsided. Chan warns that the virus may return with a vengeance. The CDC here in the U.S. reported 226 cases in 30 states with one death.
The number of people with flu here is increasing at the time when the typical season would be near its end. The WHO added on Monday Columbia and El Salvador to the list of countries with confirmed cases. The others are Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, China (Hong Kong), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the U.K., and the United States.