GENEVA (AP) - Swine flu is now formally a pandemic, a
declaration by U.N. health officials that will speed vaccine
production and spur government spending to combat the first global
flu epidemic in 41 years.
Thursday's announcement by the World Health Organization doesn't
mean the virus is any more lethal - only that its spread is
Since it was first detected in late April in Mexico and the
United States, swine flu has reached 74 countries, infecting nearly
29,000 people. Most who catch the bug have only mild symptoms and
don't need medical treatment.
WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan made the long-awaited declaration
after the U.N. agency held an emergency meeting with flu experts
and said she was moving to phase 6 - the agency's highest alert
level - which means a pandemic is under way.
"The world is moving into the early days of its first influenza
pandemic in the 21st century," Chan said in Geneva.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, the new head of the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, said in Atlanta that he does not expect
widespread public anxiety in the United States as a result of the
declaration, noting it came nearly two months after the virus was