Saturday, April 25, 2009
Swine Flu is THE epidemic, forget about Bird Flu this is the stuff of the scary movies.
In March and April 2009, over 1,000 cases of swine flu in humans were detected in Mexico and the southwestern United States, causing more than 60 deaths in Mexico. Following a series of reports of isolated cases of swine flu, the first announcement of the outbreak in Mexico was documented on April 23. Some of the cases have been confirmed by the World Health Organization to be due to a new genetic strain of H1N1. The new strain has been confirmed in 16 of the deaths and 44 others are being tested as of 24 April 2009. The Mexican fatalities are mainly young adults, a hallmark of pandemic flu.
The current vaccine against the seasonal influenza strain H1N1 is thought to be unlikely to provide protection. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that the United States cases were found to be made up of genetic elements from four different flu viruses—North American swine influenza, North American avian influenza, human influenza A virus subtype H1N1, and swine influenza virus typically found in Asia and Europe. For two cases a complete genome sequence had been obtained. She said that the virus was resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, but susceptible to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).
The new strain appears to be a recombinant between two older strains. Preliminary genetic characterization found that the hemagglutinin (HA) gene was similar to that of swine flu viruses present in U.S. pigs since 1999, but the neuraminidase (NA) and matrix protein (M) genes resembled versions present in European swine flu isolates. Viruses with this genetic makeup had not previously been found to be circulating in humans or pigs, but there is no formal national surveillance system to determine what viruses are circulating in pigs in the U.S.
Why is this a BIG DEAL!
In the spring of 1918, swine influenza mutated into a severe human form in just a few months. Some of the victims became severely ill and died, while the rest suffered from mild symptoms. In the US, the first deaths were recorded among sailors in Boston in August 1918, and the epidemic quickly spread to all parts of the country. Between the autumn of 1918 and the spring of 1919, 548,452 people died of this flu in the US. In the UK, France and Germany, around 600,000 people died. Worldwide, the number of casualties was between 20 and 50 million, or maybe more. The puzzling fact is that the epidemic erupted almost simultaneously at distant locations, therefore it is likely that the virus was incubated in people with only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Other anomalous facts are that the disease attacked people in their twenties and thirties, thought to have strong immune systems, and most of the infections were lethal. At the military prison at Deer Island (Massachusetts) in Boston Harbor there was an attempt to develop a vaccine during the 1918 outbreak.
WHAT do You Do?
1. Good Hygiene, Wash your hands, soap and water works better then hand sanitizers!
2. Stay away from large crowds!
3. Tamiflu Anti-Virus works, but it does not work unless you have the virus.