Sayonara Swine Flu: The World Is Post-Pandemic, WHO Announces

The WHO announced today that the H1N1 swine flu pandemic has now ended.

ByABC News
August 10, 2010, 10:16 AM

Aug. 10, 2010— -- The H1N1 swine flu pandemic has now officially ended, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), although many national health authorities saw a sharp drop in cases and began canceling vaccine orders months ago.

The world is moving into the "post-pandemic period" with global levels of H1N1 transmission now at an intensity similar to that of the seasonal flu, WHO's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, said this morning.

Many health authorities in the United States "and most people around the country" thought the pandemic had ended in the spring, with the close of flu season, Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., said.

The WHO announcement addressed worldwide levels, however, so the organization had to wait for the southern hemisphere to go through its flu season (during the U.S. summer) before hammering the final nail in the coffin of the H1N1 global pandemic, he added.

The H1N1 virus has abated but is not gone, Chan warned this morning. It will continue to circulate and cause illness and "continued vigilance is extremely important."

The WHO has recommended that health authorities continue to monitor severe cases of swine flu and unusual flu cases, and that high-risk individuals, such as pregnant women, the elderly and small children, continue to be vaccinated if vaccine is available to them.