05/01/2009 - This week the World Health Organization raised its global threat level to 5, its second highest, and warned nations to prepare for a global flu pandemic. Additional cases of the new swine flu were confirmed not just in North America and Mexico but also in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Peru, Germany, Austria, Spain, Israel, New Zealand and Hong Kong. And, amid some controversy, the swine flu virus got an official but unwieldy new name: A(H1N1).
“A novel virus is a very dangerous thing,” said Shelley Hearne, managing director of the Pew Health Group who teaches at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “It’s like one of those hurricanes forming in the Gulf of Mexico that has the potential to kick up to a category 5 storm, or it could lose steam and become a category 1 by the time it hits the shore…I’d rather be prepared for the worst.”
Read the full post More Readers’ Questions About Swine Flu on The New York Times' Consults blog.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Pandemic Planning Project on PewHealth.org