Things have gotten more serious with the Swine Flu situation both in the USA as well as world-wide. Early this evening, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert level to phase 4, indicating a significantly increased risk of a global outbreak of a serious disease. In a related note, WHO revised its 6-point scale for pandemic alerts, saying that phase 5 would correspond to a strong signal that a pandemic is “imminent.” On its website, WHO explains the new criteria:
- Phase 4 is characterized by human-to-human spread of a new virus able to cause community-level outbreaks
- Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one region
- Phase 6 is a global pandemic characterized by widespread outbreaks in more than one region.
Techies should head over to Wired to read their great article about a Veratect, tech startup company out of Seattle, that claims they alerted the Centers for Disease Control to the situation in Mexico on April 16 before even the Mexican health authorities declared a problem. How did they do it? As a self proclaimed biosurveillance startup, they have been monitoring and analyzing the flow of social media traffic along with more official reports, the company’s CEO said. “We started picking up the early indicators of social disruption, whether it shows up on blogs or Twitter,” said Bob Hart, the CEO of Veratect. “We can pick up the first indicators of behavioral changes.”