Swine Flu: No Exaggerations Necessary

As most of the world knows, a new strain of the flu called swine flu or Influenza A (H1N1) has been spread to the United States from Mexico.  

This new strain has not been researched enough to understand or predict the outcome of this new virus, and the World Health Organization has been hinting that a pandemic is possible, which means that the scope could be global.

The flu is an RNA virus that belongs to the family orthomyxoviridae.  An RNA virus may carry their geome as single-stranded (+) or (-) RNA.  Viruses in general use the host’s cellular machinery to produce viral enzymes and other components, since the virus does not have enzymes for key metabolic reactions, such as protein synthesis or energy (ATP) prodution.  In essence, a virus, once it infects a host cell, turns the cell into a factory for producing more viruses. 

Although indiviudals in Mexico are dying and over a thousand people are infected, only one life in America has been claimed by swine flu (a 23-month-old Mexican boy who had traveled to Houston for medical treatment who died on Monday, April 27, 2009).  According to a report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “federal health officials reported there are now 160 confirmed cases in 21 states, with 13 hospitalizations.”  Also, the scope of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico might not be as great as once thought and the number of new cases there appear to be leveling off.”  

Although the probability of a pandemic outbreak of swine flu is slim, the World Health Organization has said that “there was no evidence of sustained spread in communities outside North America.”  This is important for people to understand, especially for those people who are taking this virus way too seriously.  It’s not exactly yellow fever or rubella that is rampant.  

China has recently taken action to help quarantine the virus.  According to NPR, officials “worked aggressively to track down people who may have been near a sick Mexican tourist, sealing 305 people inside a Hong Kong hotel where he stayed and hospitalizing 15 fellow passengers. The man developed a fever after arriving in the Chinese territory and was isolated in stable condition Saturday.”

Also, the majority of individuals who are at serious risk if they do have contact to the virus are the elderly, the young (as in infants and toddlers), and people who are immunodeficient or who have a debilitating disease such as AIDS, which lowers immunity.  

“The U.S. is taking ‘all necessary precautions’ now to be prepared if the swine flu develops into ‘something worse,’ President Barack Obama said Saturday,” May 2, 2009.

Washing your hands and covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing is integral to the containment of this virus, especially if one is in a hospital or an area with a high density of people.  Hopefully this virus ends promptly and with minimal damage, but one can only hope. 

Here is a video from Dr. Joe Bresee with the CDC Influenza Division describing swine flu and its signs, symptoms and other information.

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~ by jrn320afigueroa on May 2, 2009.

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