The World Health Organization has declared that the world is now at the start of an influenza pandemic. WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said today:
I have conferred with leading influenza experts, virologists, and public health officials. In line with procedures set out in the International Health Regulations, I have sought guidance and advice from an Emergency Committee established for this purpose.
On the basis of available evidence, and these expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met.
I have therefore decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6.
The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.
The illustration below will need to be modified for the next edition of my textbook. This week’s pop quiz: What should be the origin of the 8 RNA segments of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain? Here is a larger version of the image if you subscribe to the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.