Fatma Bazargan’s blog


Pandemic – Swine Flu
April 27, 2009, 3:17 pm
Filed under: General
Swine Influenza - Pandemic

Swine Influenza - Pandemic

Source: BBC News

What is swine flu?

Swine flu is a respiratory disease, caused by influenza type A which infects pigs. There are many types, and the infection is constantly changing. Until now it has not normally infected humans, but the latest form clearly does, and can be spread from person to person – probably through coughing and sneezing.

 

How worried should people be?

When any new strain of flu emerges that acquires the ability to pass from person to person, it is monitored very closely in case it has the potential to spark a global epidemic, or pandemic.

The World Health Organization has warned that taken together the Mexican and US cases could potentially trigger a global pandemic, and stress that the situation is serious. However, experts say it is still too early to accurately assess the situation fully. Currently, they say the world is closer to a flu pandemic than at any point since 1968 – rating the threat at three on a six-point scale. Nobody knows the full potential impact of a pandemic, but experts have warned that it could cost millions of lives worldwide. The Spanish flu pandemic, which began in 1918, and was also caused by an H1N1 strain, killed millions of people. The fact that all the cases in the US have so far produced mild symptoms is encouraging. It suggests that the severity of the Mexican outbreak may be due to an unusual geographically-specific factor – possibly a second unrelated virus circulating in the community – which would be unlikely to come into play in the rest of the world. Alternatively, people infected in Mexico may have sought treatment at much later stage than those in other countries. It may also be the case that the form of the virus circulating in Mexico is subtly different to that elsewhere – although that will only be confirmed by laboratory analysis. There is also hope that, as humans are often exposed to forms of H1N1 through seasonal flu, our immune systems may have something of a head start in fighting infection. However, the fact that many of the victims are young does point to something unusual. Normal, seasonal flu tends to affect the elderly disproportionately.

 

More information can be found at:

 

safe safe.

 

Fatma Bazargan

 

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