Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu - When Pigs Fly

Remember the avian flu? "Bird flu," some call it, and it scared the bejeezus out of us for years. Still does, actually, but suddenly it has been pushed aside. Bird flu has not flown. Swine flu is flying high, soaring over the population of Mexico and just beginning its flight over the U.S. As thousands in Mexico may already be affected, and now at least 149 there dead from swine flu, with confirmed cases in California, Texas, New York, Kansas. All U.S. states are bracing for the probability that it will affect them, too.

The pig has flown, and it has big wings.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Mexican/US swine flu outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern”. tells us that swine flu is "a type A influenza virus present in pigs. Human infection is usually uncommon except among people who work and live closely with pigs." 

People who don't associate with pigs, of course, can become infected by those who do, and they in turn continue to spread it. For example, a pig farmer in Mexico catches swine flu from one of his herd. He then infects his wife, and she then infects a sales clerk in town, who in turn spreads it to a tourist, who brings it back to Minneapolis and spreads it around her real estate office. One of the real estate firm's clients catches it from a sales rep, then flies out to a meeting in, say, Louisville, spreading it as he passes through two airport terminals and then to everyone in the meeting. This goes on and on until tens of thousands are infected. (You cannot catch swine flu by eating pork or pork products.)

What Are the Symptoms of Swine Flu? Let's turn again to

Symptoms are similar to regular human flu: fever and chills, a cough, sore throat, aching limbs, headaches, and general malaise. However, there are reports of swine flu also causing diarrhoea and vomiting. Pneumonia and respiratory failure can occur leading to death as also happens in regular human flu, which kills thousands of people every year.

Are there warning signs in children?

Children having trouble breathing, being averse to drinking, lethargy not waking up or not interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to beheld, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough, fever with a rash.

Michigan Investigating Probable Case of Swine Flu
Swine Flu Crisis May Overshadow 100-Day Milestone
Mexico Raises Swine Flu Death Toll to 149
Asian Shares End Mostly Lower; Swine Flu Hits Travel Stocks
Drugmaker shares rise on swine-flu outbreak

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