This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
than twenty countries have found cases of the new H1N1 influenza virus. In all
around one thousand five hundred cases and thirty deaths have been confirmed. But
most have been reported in Mexico and, to a much lesser extent, the United
States. The virus was discovered in Mexico in the middle of March.
Tuesday, federal officials in the United States advised schools not to close
anymore when they have cases. The new health secretary, Kathleen
Sebelius, said the virus does not seem to be as severe as once thought.
The World Health Organization will not declare
an influenza pandemic unless a virus becomes widespread in at least two areas
of the world. The W.H.O. is advising people to wash their hands often with
soap and water. And it says there is no risk of infection from eating
well-cooked meat from pigs.
virus is commonly called swine flu because it contains some genetic material
from pigs. But it also contains material from humans and birds.
World Health Organization, the United Nations health agency, uses a system of
six phases to warn of possible influenza pandemics. The current system has been
used since two thousand five. For the first time the W.H.O. raised its alert
level from phase four to phase five on April twenty-ninth.
Phase four means that a virus has gained
the ability to cause community-level outbreaks. Phase five is marked by
human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in the same area
of the world. This declaration is meant to warn that the time to plan for a
pandemic is short.
six would mean a global pandemic. Still, this would only mean that there are
community-level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different area of
The threat of H1N1 may have eased in
recent days. But public health officials point out that flu viruses can return
more aggressively after a few months. That happened with the so-called Spanish
flu of nineteen eighteen which killed millions worldwide.
In the fourteenth century, ships that arrived in
Venice, Italy, from areas infected with bubonic plague had to stay outside port
for forty days. That was called quarantine, from a Latin word that means forty.
Quarantine measures separate people from the general population if there are
worries that they could be infectious.
that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. For the
latest news, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Mario Ritter.