The new strain of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, has officially made an appearance in all fifty of the United States, but the more immediate concern is the rapidly inflating number of cases in southern hemisphere countries where the winter flu season is setting in. Australia and Chile are both posting record numbers of flu cases that may prompt a response from the World Health Organization.
There is no question in my mind that this is a level six pandemic, says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, referring to the WHO s highest designation, a global epidemic to which most people have no immunity, but they re reluctant to call it a level six because they re afraid it will cause a panic.
ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees and advocates a cautious and practical approach to address the issue here at home: When winter comes, we know it s going to recur and get worse. I would recommend distributing a vaccine for H1N1 the same way I would for the seasonal flu in general.