(06/11/09) - The World Health Organization declared the first flu pandemic in 41 years Thursday due to the outbreak of the swine flu.

The announcement by the WHO director-general came as infections climbed in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere to nearly 30,000 cases. WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan says she decided to raise the pandemic alert level from phase 5 to 6 after an emergency meeting on swine flu with top experts. The increase means there's a global outbreak of swine flu.

At least 140 people have died so far from the H1N1 virus, including 15 in New York City. More than 800 cases have been confirmed in the city and 530 people have been hospitalized, according to health officials.

Meanwhile, the WHO chief says seasonal vaccine production for influenza is over, which clears the way for a swine flu vaccine.

AP wires contributed to this report.

CDC- Swine FluCDC - VaccinesMedlinePlus: Swine FluPandemicFlu.govWebMDGoogle Maps of Swine FluWorldHealth OrganizationU.S.Department of Health and Human Services

NYS Swine Flu Hotline: 1-800-808-1987NYS Department of Health

Swine Flu: What New Yorkers Need to KnowInvestigation of New York City Swine FluCluster ContinuesNYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene