The New York Times reported this afternoon that the World Health Organization has raised its alert on swine flu to its highest level, the first designation of a global pandemic in 41 years.
Meanwhile, in Vermont, Fletcher Allen Health Care, the state's largest hospital, has confirmed that one of its own doctors contracted the novel H1N1 influenza A virus recently and is home recovering, a hospital spokesperson said yesterday.
The doctor, who was not identified, contracted a "very mild case" of the disease, which was later confirmed to be swine flu, Fletcher Allen spokesperson Mike Noble said Wednesday. According to Noble, the doctor had not been seeing patients prior to contracting the disease. The staff he was in contact with are being closely monitored for flu symptoms; so far, none of them has shown signs of the illness.
Both Noble and Susan Schoenfeld, the deputy state epidemiologist, downplayed the significance of swine flu's appearance within the hospital, noting that it was just a matter of time before it emerged at a Vermont health care facility, given its rapid transmission in the general population.