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Swine Flu Benchmark The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 29 April 2009, a level-5 pandemic alert for a strain of H1N1 influenza originating in pigs in Mexico and transmitting from human to human in several countries. Fraser et al. (p. 1557 , published online 11 May; see the cover) amassed a team of experts in Mexico and WHO to make an initial assessment of the outbreak with a view to guiding future policy. The outbreak appears to have originated in mid-February in the village of La Gloria, Veracruz, where over half the population suffered acute respiratory illness, affecting more than 61% of children under 15 years old in the community. The basic reproduction number (the number of people infected per patient) is in the range of 1.5—similar or less than that of the pandemics of 1918, 1957, and 1968. There remain significant uncertainties about the severity of this outbreak, which makes it difficult to compare the economic and societal costs of intervention with lives saved and the risks of generating antiviral resistance.

Original publication




Journal article




American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Publication Date





1557 - 1561