Rita Rubin and Elizabeth Weise
April 30, 2009

The world moved to the brink of an global influenza pandemic Wednesday as the fast-spreading swine flu, which has gained at least a toehold in nine countries, claimed its first victim in the USA, a Mexican toddler visiting in Texas.

[efoods]The World Health Organization raised its global alert level to phase 5, just one level below 6, or “global pandemic,” because the virus appears to be spreading easily person-to-person and cases are appearing that have no link to Mexico. That’s where the virus first began to hit broadly just a few weeks ago.

The new level signifies that “all countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans,” World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said. The world will need to pull together to deal with the threat, she said, because “it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”

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