Swine flu one step away from pandemic; first U.S. death reported - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Swine flu one step away from pandemic; first U.S. death reported

Gov. Rick Perry Gov. Rick Perry
Dr. Margaret Chan Dr. Margaret Chan
Rear Adam. Ann Schuchat Rear Adam. Ann Schuchat
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
President Barack Obama President Barack Obama

By Tracie Potts

NEW YORK (NBC) - The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has raised its classification of the swine flu outbreak to Phase Five, one step away from a worldwide pandemic.

"Influenza pandemic must be taken seriously precisely because of the capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world," warned W.H.O. director Margaret Chan.

The first death in the United States from the virus was announced Thursday. 

Texas is now on high alert after someone who crossed the border into that state died of swine flu in a Houston hospital.

The victim was a Mexican toddler who entered the U.S. earlier this month to visit relatives.

"Texans should know that this state is highly prepared for this type of incident," said Texas Governor Rick Perry.

More than 90 Americans are now sick from swine flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed new cases in Arizona, Indiana,  Massachusetts, Michigan and Nevada.

Still, the CDC is warning Americans not to panic.

"The virus that's circulating can be treated with the drugs in our stockpile. That's a really good thing," said the CDC's Dr. Ann Schuchat.

Kathleen Sebelius, in her first day on the job as Health and Human Services Secretary, is overseeing 11 million doses of those drugs being shipped out to states.

"We're determined to fight this outbreak and do everything we can to protect the health of every American," she said in an early morning press conference.

President Obama suggested today that schools with even suspected cases close, and Texas just did just that. 53,000 students there stayed home.

Still, the government insists closing the border with Mexico is not the best way to fight this virus.

Officials say pork is not at risk, but the industry's still taking a hit because of all this uncertainty.

So instead of calling it "swine flu," the government now calling this virus by its technical name: H1N1.

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