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What the WHO's Flu Alert Phases Mean

The World Health Organization bumped their global pandemic alert level up to "Phase 4" in response to the current swine flu situation. It's a...


The World Health Organization bumped their global pandemic alert level up to "Phase 4" in response to the current swine flu situation. It's a six-phase scale. Here's what that means:Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause "community-level outbreaks." The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic. Any country that suspects or has verified such an event should urgently consult with WHO so that the situation can be jointly assessed and a decision made by the affected country if implementation of a rapid pandemic containment operation is warranted. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.So: cough into the crook of your elbow, wash your hands, and don't freak out.You can check out descriptions of all the phases at the WHO site here.
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