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WHO: H1N1 pandemic is over

by Barbara Kram, Editor | August 10, 2010
Fears of "swine" flu
pandemic have passed
As the U.S. gears up for the 2010 flu season, the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 pandemic over.

"The world is no longer in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in a press conference Tuesday. The call was made by the organization's Emergency Committee, based on a global assessment.

"As we enter the post-pandemic period, this does not mean that the H1N1 virus has gone away. Based on experience with past pandemics, we expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behavior of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come," Chan noted.

WHO says the world can expect localized outbreaks including significant levels of H1N1 transmission. One such outbreak is taking place in New Zealand right now. Recent outbreaks there and in India were met with a swift response. Overall, off-season outbreaks are no longer being reported.

Previous exposure of 20 to 40 percent of people in some areas, along with widespread vaccination efforts have led to protective immunity in many countries. Nevertheless, Chan urged continued vigilance and warned that pandemics and viruses are unpredictable. WHO has issued advice on continued surveillance, vaccination, and clinical management. Visit http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/notes/briefing_20100810/en/index.html.

As DOTmed News reported, a test and vaccine have been developed to identify and combat H1N1, which is also known as the (2009) swine flu.