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H1N1 influenza (‘swine flu’) update

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April 27, 2009; updated May 1, 2009

H1N1 influenza has been reported in several U.S. states, including Massachusetts, as well as Mexico and a growing number of other countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) uses a six-level pandemic-preparedness system to track the progress of infectious diseases on a global scale. On April 29, 2009, WHO raised the H1N1 pandemic alert level to “phase 5,” indicating “a human-to-human spread of the virus with community-level infection,” in at least two countries in one geographic region, although the situation does not yet meet the definition of a global pandemic. WHO officials have said that the change in alert level represents a signal for all countries to activate their pandemic-preparedness plans and remain on high alert for outbreaks of flu-like illnesses.

On April 27, 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel advisory recommending that people avoid “non-essential travel to Mexico” (e.g., that they postpone Mexican vacations or other non-necessary trips to the country). For up-to-date CDC travel warnings, advisories, and other notices for Mexico and other destinations, visit the CDC’s travelers’ health page.

Members of the MIT community are urged to follow the same strategies they would ordinarily use to protect themselves and others during a normal cold and flu season:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick

MIT Medical and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health continue to monitor the situation closely. The most up-to-date national and local information is available from the CDC and the state’s public health blog.

See also: MIT Medical's influenza information page

*This news story has not been updated since the date shown. Information contained in this story may be outdated. For current information about MIT Medical’s services, please see relevant areas of the MIT Medical website.

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