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Washington, D.C., August 10, 2010 (PAHO) — The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic has effectively ended, and the world has moved into a “post-pandemic” phase characterized by traditional seasonal patterns of influenza.

“The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a telephone news conference. “During the pandemic, H1N1 crowded out other influenza viruses to become the dominant circulating virus. This is no longer the case.”

The announcement came following a meeting earlier today of the Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulations (IHR), which consists of leading experts on influenza who provide advice to WHO based on the latest epidemiological and virological data.  

Dr. Chan said the committee’s advice to declare an end to the pandemic was based on the global situation but also took into account significant influenza activity in several countries. Among the key factors considered were:

  • Influenza outbreaks worldwide have returned to levels of intensity that are characteristic of normal influenza seasons.
  • H1N1 is no longer the dominant influenza virus but is part of a mix of circulating viruses.
  • Large numbers of people now have some immunity to the H1N1 virus as a result of infection, exposure, or vaccination campaigns.

Dr. Chan cautioned, however, that ongoing vigilance is needed to ensure that the virus does not unexpectedly reemerge as a threat. “We expect the virus to continue to circulate for some years to come.”

Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), joined Dr. Chan in emphasizing the need for continued vigilance, especially on the part of PAHO/WHO member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Influenza viruses are highly unpredictable. We need to keep up surveillance and reporting to ensure that we are not taken by surprise as a result of any such change,” said Dr. Roses.

During the past 16 months, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus reached every WHO region and affected all but a handful of the world’s countries. Officially, the virus has caused approximately 18,500 deaths. That figure, however, is based only on laboratory-confirmed cases. Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s leading influenza expert, described the number as a “minimum” and said it may take several years to develop more accurate death toll numbers based on traditional methods of estimating influenza deaths.

In the Americas, more than 8,500 laboratory-confirmed deaths due to H1N1 have been reported (as of early August) to PAHO. Outbreaks in Latin America and the Caribbean peaked in April–August 2009 and, in a number of countries, stretched the capacity of national health systems to handle the large number of cases. Among the hardest hit countries were Mexico and the countries of the Southern Cone.

Dr. Roses noted that the H1N1 virus continues to circulate at low levels, along with other influenza viruses, in Latin America and the Caribbean and that it could still cause outbreaks that could have significant effects on local communities.

Moreover, the H1N1 virus could change—through antigenic drift—in ways that make people’s current immunity less protective. In addition, countries that were less affected during the pandemic could see more severe disease from H1N1 in a future season.

For these reasons, PAHO is urging health authorities in its member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to:

  • Maintain surveillance of influenza virus, influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness, and monitor and investigate unusual events, such as clusters of severe respiratory illness or death.
  • Report to PAHO/WHO changes such as sustained transmission of antiviral-resistant H1N1 virus, human cases of infection with any influenza virus not known to be circulating in human populations, or significant changes in the epidemiological or genetic characteristics of H1N1 or other influenza viruses.
  • Continue to vaccinate against the H1N1 virus, using monovalent (single virus) H1N1 vaccine or trivalent seasonal vaccine (which now contains H1N1), depending on availability. This is particularly important for high-risk groups, including pregnant women.
  • Continue to provide appropriate care for people suspected of illness from influenza, including treatment with anti-viral medicines for groups at increased risk of severe illness.

Dr. Roses also said that PAHO member countries should review their national pandemic preparedness plans and make improvements to those plans based on experience gained during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

“We believe our work with member countries on preparing for a pandemic was a valuable investment in building capacity for surveillance and reporting and in strengthening health systems in general. But there is still much work to be done in both of these areas to ensure that our countries are better prepared for the next health emergency, whatever that might be.”

PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world’s oldest public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).


Contact: Donna Eberwine-Villagran, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,
Tel. +1 202 974 3122, Knowledge Management and Communication Area,
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 August 2010 18:17


2014

PAHO year in review: 2014 public health highlights in the Americas (12/24/2014)

years end-150The year 2014 was marked by progress as well as significant challenges for public health in the Americas. The region's countries advanced toward goals including universal health coverage, expanded access to vaccination, and ensuring that fewer babies are born with HIV. They also confronted major new challenges, including the arrival and spread of the chikungunya virus and the need to prepare for the possible imported cases of Ebola.

PAHO/WHO provides training in risk communication for possible Ebola introduction (12/09/2014)

Mesa directiva

Professionals from 11 countries of the Americas are in Quito, Ecuador, this week for a training workshop on risk communication organized by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). The two-day workshop (December 9 and 10) is part of efforts to ensure that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are prepared to respond effectively to potential imported cases of Ebola and other public health emergencies.

Avoiding local transmission of Ebola is the goal in Latin America and the Caribbean (11/10/2014)

Dr. Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis

The Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Dr. Marcos Espinal, said that preventing local transmission of Ebola is the main goal in preparing for the eventual arrival of cases of the disease in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ebola: PAHO/WHO briefs health authorities on support for preparedness in the Americas (11/06/2014)

PAHO/WHO mobilizes Ebola preparedness teams in Latin America and the Caribbean (11/03/2014)

Countries of the Americas plan for possible Ebola introduction (10/31/2014)

PAHO Director Urges Countries of the Americas to Prepare for Early Identification of Possible Ebola Cases (10/27/2014)

Health officials briefed on Ebola and chikungunya during 53rd PAHO Directing Council (10/02/2014)

First imported Ebola case is reported in the Americas (10/01/2014)

PAHO Director briefs OAS envoys on Ebola in Africa and chikungunya in the Americas (09/25/2014)

WHO statement on the second meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee regarding the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (09/22/2014)

WHO welcomes the extensive Ebola support from the United States of America (09/17/2014)

WHO welcomes Cuban doctors for Ebola response in West Africa (09/12/2014)

PAHO urges countries to eliminate mosquito breeding sites to prevent the spread of dengue and chikungunya (09/10/2014)

Statement on the WHO Consultation on potential Ebola therapies and vaccines (09/05/2014)

Ebola Virus Disease: Occupational Safety and Health (08/29/2014)

WHO issues "roadmap" to scale up international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (08/28/2014)

PAHO Calls on the Countries of the Americas to Remain on Guard against the Ebola Virus despite a Climate of Calm (08/28/2014)

Unprecedented number of medical staff infected with Ebola (08/27/2014)

WHO-deployed health worker receiving care after testing positive for Ebola (08/26/2014)

Anecdotal evidence about experimental therapies (08/25/2014)

Why the Ebola outbreak has been underestimated (08/25/2014)

Travel and Transport in Relation to Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak (08/18/2014)

Ethical considerations for use of unregistered interventions for Ebola virus disease (EVD) (08/11/2014)

PAHO/WHO urges the countries of the Americas to be vigilant and prepared for potential introduction of Ebola virus (08/10/2014)

“The Ebola epidemic is a serious public health problem, but it can still be controlled” (08/05/2014)

Número especial en periódico internacional sobre leptospirosis en la interface animal-humano-ecosistema (07/25/2014)

Dominican Republic is first country in the Americas to publish guidelines for clinical management of chikungunya (07/17/2014)

El Instituto Nacional para Síntesis Matemática y Biológica (NIMBioS) organizó taller para modelaje matemática de leptospirosis (06/10/2014)

Polio declared public health emergency of international concern under International Health Regulations (05/05/2014)

Countries of the Americas share risk of antibiotic resistance, must act now to protect health (04/29/2014)

Países de América debaten en Buenos Aires sobre la implementación del Reglamento Sanitario Internacional (04/29/2014)

Water and sanitation improvements remain key to defeating cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (03/21/2014)

Haiti partners see progress, challenges in cholera control (02/05/2014)

2013

Representatives from the Ministries of Health met to discuss coordination and operational aspects of cholera prevention and control in the Subregion (12/09/2013)

Poster sobre leptospirosis gana premio en el Fórum de “Una Salud” en Davos, Suiza (11/22/2013)

Sesión sobre leptospirosis advoca por el enfoque de “Una Salud” para la reducción del impacto de los brotes (11/22/2013)

Simulacro de Leptospirosis en Choluteca, Honduras (10/31/2013)

Experts urge more WATSAN investments to halt cholera in Haiti, prevent its spread to more countries (10/25/2013)

USAID and World Vision join coalition to eliminate cholera from Haiti and the Dominican Republic (06/28/2013)

Experts in leptospirosis meet in Brasilia (04/15/2013)

2012

International Health Leaders Pledge to Work Together to Eliminate Cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (10/16/2012)

2011

Llamado a la acción: La Hispaniola libre del cólera (12/28/2011)

Técnicos evaluaron respuesta y desafíos a un año de la epidemia de cólera en República Dominicana (12/07/2011)

Puerto Rico Presents Pilot Project for the Prevention and Control of Dengue (11/23/2011)

Journalism Award Winners Focus on Drug Resistance in Latin America (08/17/2011)

Haití condecora a la OPS/OMS por labor durante brote de cólera (04/20/2011)

Experts Warn of “Untreatable Infections” (04/05/2011)

Response to Cholera in Belle Fontaine, Haiti (01/28/2011)

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Key to Control Cholera Epidemic in Haiti (01/10/2011)

2010

Experts to Discuss Cholera Vaccination in the Americas (12/15/2010)

Se prepara Plan de Contingencia ante la amenaza de un posible brote de Cólera en Guatemala (12/03/2010)

Cases Continue to Climb, But Fewer Patients are Dying from Cholera (12/02/2010)

National Day of Education and Prevention of Cholera in the Dominican Republic (12/01/2010)

Elections Not Expected to Increase Cholera Spread in Haiti (11/25/2010)

Cholera Outbreak in Haiti - Press Briefing by Dr. Jon Andrus, PAHO Deputy Director, 23 November 2010 (11/23/2010)

International Agencies Propose Joint Strategy to Fight Cholera in Haiti (11/16/2010)

PAHO Press Briefing on the Cholera Outbreak in Haiti, Tuesday, 16 November 2010 (11/15/2010)

PAHO Briefs NGO Partners on Cholera Outbreak in Haiti (11/15/2010)

Press Briefing on Cholera Outbreak in Haiti by Dr. Jon Andrus November 9 (11/09/2010)

Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Likely to Grow Much Larger (11/09/2010)

Number of Cholera Cases and Deaths Still Rising in Haiti (11/02/2010)

CDC: Cholera Outbreak Strain Identified (11/01/2010)

PAHO’s Deputy Director Updates OAS’ Group of Friends of Haiti on Outbreak Situation (10/28/2010)

PAHO Position on Cholera Vaccination in Haiti (10/28/2010)

PAHO: Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Still Trending Upward (10/27/2010)

PAHO: Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Still Trending Upward (10/27/2010)

Press briefing on the cholera outbreak in Haiti by Dr. Jon Andrus, 27 October 2010 (10/27/2010)

PAHO: Cholera cases likely to increase in Haiti (10/25/2010)

PAHO Responds to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti (10/22/2010)

Taller analizó el impacto de la vacuna contra la influenza pandémica (09/15/2010)

WHO Declares H1N1 Pandemic Over, Urges Continued Influenza Vigilance (08/10/2010)

Facts and Myths about the Safety of the Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 2009 Vaccine (05/26/2010)

Spain Donates Four Million Doses of Influenza A Vaccines to Latin American Countries (03/04/2010)

Nicaragua: Lista para recibir y aplicar la vacuna contra la Influenza AH1N1 en grupos priorizados (02/24/2010)

2009

Jóvenes de los Ecoclubes difunden mensajes de prevención frente a la pandemia de influenza H1N1 (12/14/2009)

WHO Says Prompt Treatment Can Prevent Serious Cases, Deaths from H1N1 (11/12/2009)

Preparing Communities to Respond to Pandemic Influenza (11/03/2009)

Autoridades de Salud alertan sobre brote severo de dengue en Nicaragua (10/02/2009)

PAHO Unveils Two Communities of Practice on Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (09/21/2009)

Countries of the Americas Examine Response to Pandemic H1N1 2009 and Challenges Ahead (09/11/2009)

Países de las Américas se organizan para adquirir la vacuna de la gripe pandémica (09/10/2009)

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in the Americas: What's Next? (09/02/2009)

Chile's President Urges a Collective Response to A (H1N1) Pandemic (06/24/2009)

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