“The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.” And with these words from Dr Margaret Chan Director-General of the World Health Organization, WHO raised the pandemic level to six – and we started our first global influenza pandemic since 1968.

Her speech had several notable comments…the first was the shift from mild to moderate severity.

“Globally, we have good reason to believe that this pandemic, at least in its early days, will be of moderate severity. As we know from experience, severity can vary, depending on many factors, from one country to another.”

She went on to discuss the affected age range and the disturbing trend of illness. “We know that the novel H1N1 virus preferentially infects younger people. In nearly all areas with large and sustained outbreaks, the majority of cases have occurred in people under the age of 25 years. In some of these countries, around 2 percent of cases have developed severe illness, often with very rapid progression to life-threatening pneumonia. Most cases of severe and fatal infections have been in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years.”

She confirmed what we all know – we don’t know what will happen with this virus going forward and the concern for the developing world. “Finally, and perhaps of greatest concern, we do not know how this virus will behave under conditions typically found in the developing world. To date, the vast majority of cases have been detected and investigated in comparatively well-off countries.”

We have 109 days till the start of the annual flu season in the Northern Hemisphere.  Do not waste a second of it – prepare now for at the very least a very, very bad flu season.