Swine Flu update

24 04 2009

Some quick updates on the swine flu outbreak as of 12:00pm pdt 24 April:

The CDC is working with WHO and governments around the world to detect any early warning signs of a spread of the virus.

Because of rapid developments, some information put out by CDC and local or state health departments may be conflicting, so check twice before assuming what you’ve heard is accurate.

There are now eight confirmed cases in the U.S.  Although not confirmed, the figures out of Mexico are 800 infected and 60 dead.  The CDC is in talks with Mexican officials to possibly send a team to Mexico to investigate those cases.

This is NOT a pandemic and no one has suggested it is and there is no change to the pandemic threat level.

There are three identifiers one looks for when thinking about pandemics: is the virus new (if so, the public has little to no immunity), does it cause severe disease, and is it easily transmissible/sustainable in the population?  If those three conditions are met, then perhaps it has the potential to become pandemic.  But, no one knows at this time if this swine flu will fade out or keep spreading.

Cases have been identified in two states that do not border one another.  Authorities feel that containment is not likely because the outbreak is not in a focused, defined geographic area.

At this time, there are no special precautions being recommended to travelers to Mexico, California or Texas. 

So far, it appears that, of the 14 samples from Mexico that have been tested by the CDC, seven are the same as those found in the California and Texas cases.  The other seven of the 14 samples from Mexico came up negative.

There are 400 million crossings at the Mexico/U.S. border each year.  CDC says, if you’re sick, don’t travel.

Swine Flu – Only the Beginning?

24 04 2009

Swine flu is back.

As of the morning of 24 April, 2009, there have been seven identified cases, five in California and two in Texas.  One person was hospitalized and most received medical care of some sort, but all are now fine.

The CDC  reports that the viruses recovered so far contain genetic bits of North American swine influenza viruses, North American avian influenza viruses, human influenza viruses and swine influenza viruses found in Asia and Europe.

This particular combination of the four viruses has never before been seen.

The U.S. isn’t the only place experiencing an outbreak of an unfamiliar virus.  Mexico City has had 800 people fall ill from a respiratory illness, with 57 deaths in the city and three more deaths from elsewhere in Mexico.  The CDC is examining viral samples from Mexico to determine if there’s a connection.

You don’t have to be in contact with a swine to get swine flu – you can get it from another person.  That person may have been infected by another person rather than a pig.

The CDC has not yet determined how this flu is getting around.  How did it jump from California to Texas?  Perhaps the answer lies in Mexico.

There is good news.  This version of swine flu is susceptible to oseltamivir and zanamivir, two influenza antiviral medications.

Although there’s no vaccine, there are things we can do to stop the spread of infection.  If you have a respiratory illness and a fever, stay home (but call your doctor).  Also, handwashing remains a key method of disease prevention, so wash often and wash thoroughly.