Pssst! The swine flu is gone. Pass it on.
See ya, H1N1, we hardly knew you.
See ya, H1N1, we hardly knew you. CDC
The World Health Organization said today that the swine flu pandemic that circled the globe is officially over.
But don't relax completely, the public health officials say.
Sure, the new H1N1 virus has become scarcer, off-season outbreaks have dropped, and many people have developed immunity through vaccines or exposure to the virus itself.
Still, WHO Director General Margaret Chan said there are still serious risks in some populations. She urged continued vaccinations and monitoring to see whether the virus becomes more lethal over time.
Chan said her decision in June 2009 to declare that the virus had reached pandemic levels was "the right call."
The declaration led countries to speed vaccines to market, beef up their distribution and launch public health campaigns. Countries stockpiled antiviral medications.
Since the outbreak really got rolling in April 2009, more than 18,400 people have died from swine flu complications worldwide. For seasonal flu, the typical annual death toll is about 250,000.