The World Health Organization (WHO) has upgraded the swine influenza outbreak to near pandemic status.
“Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5,” WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan told a briefing Wednesday.
WHO said the situation continues to evolve rapidly and as of 18:00 GMT, 29 April 2009, nine countries have officially reported 148 cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection.
“The United States Government has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection including seven deaths,” the WHO said.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths – Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).[audio:https://www.abengnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/29apr2009swine_influenza_dr_margaret_chan.mp3]
Following Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting Jamaica’s health minister Rudyard Spencer said the country was on high alert.
“The WHO has determined that the current situation constitutes a public health emergency of international concern under the International health regulations, 2005,” he said. “All countries have therefore been placed on high alert, including Jamaica.
In it’s interim guidance on infection prevention and control in providing care for confirmed or suspected A(H1N1) swine influenza patients, the WHO recommends limiting contact with the ill person as much as possible. “If close contact is unavoidable, use the best available protection against respiratory droplets and perform hand hygiene,” it warns professionals.
“Swine influenza, or “swine flu”, is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs, caused by one of several swine influenza A viruses. Morbidity tends to be high and mortality low (1-4%),” says WHO. “The virus is spread among pigs by aerosols, direct and indirect contact, and asymptomatic carrier pigs. Outbreaks in pigs occur year round, with an increased incidence in the autumn and winter in temperate zones. Many countries routinely vaccinate swine populations against swine influenza.
“Outbreaks and sporadic human infection with swine influenza have been occasionally reported. Generally clinical symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza but reported clinical presentation ranges broadly from asymptomatic infection to severe pneumonia resulting in death.
HTML clipboard”To protect yourself, practice general preventive measures for influenza:
“If there is an ill person at home:
If you feel unwell, have high fever, cough and/or sore throat:
If you need medical attention: