Travel health

Swine flu in the rest of the world

flu pandemic at level 6 according to WHO How the disease is spreading

Origins of the outbreak

Swine flu was first reported in California in April 2009, although the outbreak appears to have begun in Mexico, where most of the original cases first appeared. After an initial period in which local and international health services attempted to contain the outbreak in as few locations as possible, the virus has now spread to at least 80 countries throughout the world.

In June the World Health Organization declared a pandemic and this is now at level 6, the highest possible. This means that there are widespread human infections.

Infection rates worldwide

So far (as of July 2009) the US has reported the most cases followed by Mexico, Canada, Chile and the UK. Note that the capabilities of health authorities around the world differ, with many countries unable to report accurate figures.

Cases are now increasing in southern hemisphere countries as they enter their winter season, with events in Australia over the next months likely to prove a good predictor for what we can expect in the UK this winter.

Possible drug resistance of the virus

In July the WHO reported that there had been 3 recorded cases of resistance to Tamiflu by the virus. Tamiflu is one of the two main antiviral drugs used to treat swine flu. Note that these drugs do not cure the disease; they only reduce the severity and length of the illness and help prevent some of the complications that can arise, especially in high risk patients. At this time the WHO does not consider this to represent the emergence of widespread resistance to the drug by the virus, and they continue to recommend its use for treatment.

Country by country information

If you want information about swine flu in a particular country, you can start by consulting the WHO's "Situation Updates" by visiting WHO swine flu information - look for the "Situation Updates" and click on the most recent one.

Travelling abroad

If you are planning to visit another country from the UK, you can get up to date recommendations about swine flu from the UK Foreign Office : Foreign Office swine flu travel details.

TheFamilyGP guide to swine flu

Action plan

For tips on how to be prepared for swine flu, and important contact numbers and sources of information.

Swine flu background

Risk groups

Progress of the disease

This article was published on Fri 17 July 2009

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