Australia has the most cases outside of North America: Bloomberg

2 06 2009

This report from Bloomberg describes the “tally” in Australia as “the highest outside North America”. Is this right?

It also says that the rate of spread in Australia may prompt WHO to raise the pandemic alert level to 6:

Victoria has 306 cases, up from 173 two days earlier, reflecting the spread of the virus within communities in the southeastern state. Evidence that swine flu has gained a foothold in Australia may compel WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to raise the pandemic alert to the highest of the agency’s six-step system, MacIntyre said in a telephone interview today.

“It must be fairly close to moving into phase 6,” said MacIntyre, who is also professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at the university in Sydney. “It’s clearly spreading in the community in Victoria.”

Disease trackers are looking for evidence of sustained, community transmission of the pig-derived virus outside North America to meet the WHO’s criteria for a pandemic. Such a global epidemic occurs when a new flu strain, to which most people have no immunity, appears and spreads worldwide.

I got alerted to this Bloomberg report via aCIDRAP feed. CIDRAP is worth keeping an eye on.

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