On April 29, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its infectious disease level of the H1N1 flu to 6, meaning that a pandemic is imminent. Meanwhile, US scientists studying the virus have concluded that the H1N1 virus may not be as dangerous as the flu outbreaks that occur every winter.
Although flu viruses can mutate and become more dangerous, preliminary evidence from genetics laboratories and epidemiologic models point to much milder disease than originally feared.
Christopher Olsen, a molecular virologist who is studying H1N1 at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, reminded people that normal seasonal influenza claims the lives of tens of thousands in the United States and hundreds of thousands worldwide. Robert Webby, an influenza virologist at St Jude Childrens Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn, said that the H1N1 virus has less capacity to kill as did the 1918 virus, which claimed an estimated 50 million lives worldwide.
Source: Los Angeles Times