WHO Changing Reporting Standards On Flu

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Jennifer Michels

The World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva has changed the reporting requirements needed to track and help contain the H1N1 swine flu virus.

As the pandemic evolves, WHO says the data needed have changed as authorities now realize that further spread within affected countries and to new countries is "inevitable." In a note on the changes needed, published July 16, WHO said, "The 2009 influenza pandemic has spread internationally with unprecedented speed. In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks."

WHO says there is still a need to monitor unusual events, such as clusters of cases of severe or fatal infections, clusters of respiratory illness or unexplained or unusual clinical patterns. The organization is discontinuing the reporting of the tables that show the number of confirmed cases for all countries, but will provide regular updates concerning newly affected countries. It did not specify if airport officials or airlines should make any changes to their monitoring.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Dept. has issued a travel alert for Argentina, which suggests that anyone with a risk of developing complications if they contract the flu should talk to doctors before traveling to the country. The Argentina Ministry of Health as of July 6 had reported 2,485 confirmed cases of swine flu, including 60 deaths.

State also alerts travelers that China continues to impose quarantine measures to control the flu. The policy allows the Chinese government to quarantine arriving passengers if they are exhibiting fever or flu-like symptoms. State has received reports of children traveling unaccompanied being taken into quarantine, so it recommends postponing travel of children without an adult at this time. However, it also notes that parents and children in some cases have been separated during quarantine. There is no countrywide policy on keeping family members together, State notes.

Photo Credit: Seattle Tacoma Airport

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