Thursday, April 23, 2009

You got the Swine Flu?

Almost everybody has heard of the ominous bird flu or avian flu. But new on the horizon seems to be swine flu. Just like humans, birds and pigs get the flu... influenza viruses which cause respiratory illness. Not commonly, but from time to time these strains of avian or swine influenza are transmitted to humans... usually people in close contact with birds or pigs. Interestingly, several cases of a new strain of swine/pig influenza (which is different from human influenza virus) have been identified in people without known contact with pigs. It also appears that this swine influenza strain might be spreading from human to human contact. Whereas some strains of avian influenza are very deadly in people, this swine influenza virus has not been reported to cause severe illness as of yet. Check out the link to the Centers for Disease Control report on two of these swine flu cases... it is pretty interesting (link here). I have included a couple short excerpts from the CDC's website:

"The lack of known exposure to pigs in the two cases described in this report increases the possibility that human-to-human transmission of this new influenza virus has occurred." "Because these viruses carry a unique combination of genes, no information currently is available regarding the efficiency of transmission in swine or in humans. Investigations to understand transmission of this virus are ongoing."

"... concern exists that this new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) is substantially different from human influenza A (H1N1) viruses, that a large proportion of the population might be susceptible to infection, and that the seasonal influenza vaccine H1N1 strain might not provide protection."

~~~ BIO26 ~~~

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