Swine Flu Situation Prompts Higher Pandemic Alert

More swine flu cases documented today, and the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert level to phase 4. This is part of a 6-level scale and indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased but not that a pandemic is inevitable. The next phase, 5, marks a full-fledged pandemic, meaning flu that can spread freely over wide areas, even countries.

Today, the confirmed number of swine flu cases rose from 40 to 64. California has reported 11 cases. Inyo-Mono Health Officer, Dr. Rick Johnson, said that in Mexico, where the disease seems to have originated, officials have documented over 1000 hospitalizations and over 150 deaths.

Dr. Johnson said that the Centers for Disease Control issued a new travel advisory that recommends against all non-essential travel to Mexico. The European Union has recommended postponement of all non-essential travel to North America. Dr. Johnson pointed out that this will have an economic effect on travel into the Eastern Sierra, compounding an already difficult economic situation.

Local health officials continue to work on a game plan for the Eastern Sierra if this situation worsens. Meanwhile, officials say you should wash your hands often and use alcohol-based hand cleaners. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. That’s how germs spread.


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