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Posted Sun May 31 2009: from Washington Post:
New Virus Spurs Experts to Rethink Definition of Pandemic
Influenza experts are acknowledging that they were almost completely surprised by the way the current swine flu outbreak unfolded, so much so it is forcing the world to rethink what a pandemic is and what pandemic preparedness means. Virtually every assumption made since planning for a pandemic began in earnest after the deadly "bird flu" outbreak of 2004 in Southeast Asia has been contradicted by the six-week history of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1). Although they acknowledged there might be alternative scenarios, nearly every expert assumed that the next pandemic strain would jump from birds to human beings someplace in Asia. They also assumed that, like the H5N1 bird flu virus, which is lethal in 60 percent of people who catch it, the new strain would be recognized immediately and would have to be fought with drastic measures. Instead, the virus emerged in North America, appears to have come from pigs, had spread widely by the time it was noticed, and kills less than 1 percent of the people it infects.
[Read more stories about: smart policy, pandemic]

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