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WHO Raises Swine Flu Alert
Date:4/30/2009

Cases diagnosed in U.S. have continued to be mild, officials said

THURSDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- The World Health Organization on Wednesday raised the swine flu epidemic level from 4 to 5, signifying that a pandemic is imminent, and urged countries to implement their pandemic plans.

The warning underscored the concern of world health officials that the outbreak could trigger large numbers of deaths worldwide, even though there have only been eight confirmed deaths in Mexico -- believed to be the source of the outbreak -- and one in the United States, the Associated Press reported.

"It really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic," WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in Geneva, Switzerland. "We do not have all the answers right now, but we will get them."

In Washington, President Barack Obama promised "great vigilance" in confronting the outbreak that has sickened nearly 100 people in 11 states and forced many schools to close.

All of the cases diagnosed in the United States have continued to be mild, federal health officials said Wednesday.

A 23-month-old Mexican boy who had traveled to Houston for medical treatment died Monday night, becoming the first fatality in the United States. And 39 Marines were confined to their base in California Wednesday after one came down with the disease.

Switzerland on Thursday became the latest country to report a swine flu infection -- a 19-year-old student. The virus has also spread to Canada, New Zealand, Britain, Germany, Spain, Israel and Austria, the AP reported.

An estimated 170 deaths in Mexico are believed to have been caused by the never-before-seen virus, according to published reports. The new flu strain is a combination of pig, bird and human viruses, prompting worries from health officials that humans may have no natural immunity to the pathogen.

The WHO's Phase 5 alert pro
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