World Health Organization Raises Swine Flu Pandemic Alert to Phase 5

by Tracie Potts

NBC News

The World Health Organization has raised it's classification of the swine flu outbreak to Phase Five, one step away from a worldwide pandemic.

"Influenza pandemic must be taken seriously precisely because of the capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world," W.H.O. director Margaret Chan, warned.

The first death in the United States from the virus was announced Thursday.

Texas is now on high alert after someone who crossed the border into that state died of swine flu in a Houston hospital.

The victim was a Mexican toddler who entered the U.S. earlier this month to visit relatives.

"Texans should know that this state is highly prepared for this type of incident," Texas Governor Rick Perry, said.

More than 90 Americans are now sick from swine flu.

The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed new cases in Arizona, Indiana,  Massachusetts, Michigan and Nevada.

Still, the CDC is warning Americans not to panic.

"The virus that's circulating can be treated with the drugs in our stockpile. That's a really good thing," CDC's Spokesman, Dr. Ann Schuchat, said.

Kathleen Sebelius, in her first day on the job as Health and Human Services Secretary, is overseeing 11 million doses of those drugs being shipped out to states.

"We're determined to fight this outbreak and do everything we can to protect the health of every American," Sebelius said in an early morning press conference.

President Obama suggested today that schools with even suspected cases close, and Texas just did just that.

53,000 students in Texas stayed home.

Still, the government insists closing the border with Mexico is not the best way to fight this virus.

Officials say pork is not at risk, but the industry's still taking a hit because of all this uncertainty.

So instead of calling it "swine flu," the government now calling this virus by it's technical name: H1N1.