United States H1N1 Flu Update 6/19/09
21,449 Confirmed & Probable Cases of novel H1N1 flu, 87 deaths, 53 states/territories affected
On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. A Phase 6 designation indicates that a global pandemic is underway.
More than 70 countries are now reporting cases of human infection with novel H1N1 flu. This number has been increasing over the past few weeks, but many of the cases reportedly had links to travel or were localized outbreaks without community spread. The WHO designation of a pandemic alert Phase 6 reflects the fact that there are now ongoing community level outbreaks in multiple parts of world.
WHO’s decision to raise the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus. It’s uncertain at this time how serious or severe this novel H1N1 pandemic will be in terms of how many people infected will develop serious complications or die from novel H1N1 infection. Experience with this virus so far is limited and influenza is unpredictable. However, because novel H1N1 is a new virus, many people may have little or no immunity against it, and illness may be more severe and widespread as a result. In addition, currently there is no vaccine to protect against novel H1N1 virus.
In the United States, most people who have become ill with the newly declared pandemic virus have recovered without requiring medical treatment, however, CDC anticipates that there will be more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths associated with this pandemic in the coming days and weeks. In addition, this virus could cause significant illness with associated hospitalizations and deaths in the fall and winter during the U.S. influenza season.