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.