Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu

Swine Flu seems to be the big new around here. And a lot of people seem to be panicked. There was a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) conference today and a nearly everyone who is involved with it has decided not to attend so that they don't get swine flu. My friend down the street? Her parents went through and deep-cleaned their house. And we were going to have a bonfire there last Thursday, but they canceled it because of the Swine Flu. So we moved it to another friends house. A lady I know and her family are thinking they don't want to go to the wedding they were planning on attending on the 29th because it's in Mexico.

And yet I am not afraid. I had heard of how it came around in the seventies when I was reading something on bird flu (some sort of expose, I think). Then when people are all "The Swine are Coming!" I thought I'd do a little research. Skepticism first, then--if it makes sense--then I thought I might try panicking (although I'm not very good at it).

First, I thought I might like to find out what this flu is. According to Wikipedia:

Swine influenza (also called swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu) refers to influenza caused by those strains of influenza virus that usually infect pigs and are called swine influenza virus (SIV).[1] Swine influenza is common in pigs in the midwestern United States (and occasionally in other states), Mexico, Canada, South America, Europe (including the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Italy), Kenya, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and other parts of eastern Asia.[1]

Transmission of swine influenza virus from pigs to humans is not common. When it is transmitted, it does not always cause human influenza; often, the only sign of infection is the presence of antibodies, detectable only by laboratory tests. When transmission results in influenza in a human, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People who work with pigs, especially people with intense exposures, are at risk of catching swine flu. However, only about fifty such transmissions have been recorded since the mid-20th Century, when identification of influenza subtypes became possible. (Importantly, eating pork does not pose a risk of infection.) Rarely, these strains of swine flu can pass from human to human. In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.

The 2009 flu outbreak in humans that is widely known as "swine flu" is due to an apparently virulent new strain of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 that was produced by reassortment from one strain of human influenza virus, one strain of avian influenza virus, and two separate strains of swine influenza. The origin of this new strain is unknown, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reports that this strain has not been isolated in pigs.[2] It passes with apparent ease from human to human, an ability attributed to an as-yet unidentified mutation.[3] This 2009 H1N1 strain causes the normal symptoms of influenza, such as fever, coughing and headache.[4]

Read the entire entry...

Symptoms of Swine Flu in humans:
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
The thing I don't understand is how Swine Flu could actually kill someone. Aside from dehydration (which is easily remedied through either drinking plenty of fluids and/or being hooked up to an IV), which of those is actually so dangerous? I mean, in order to live, your heart, brain, lungs, etc must perform their functions. So, how are they prevented from doing their respective jobs by influenza? But whatever.

Take a look at this article. Go ahead and skip past the first section down to where it says "Swine Flu Expose" if you like. I cannot say I agree with her version of who and why, but I do believe the how. Take what you can out of the article. I don't know if it's totally true, but it's definitely something to consider. Take a look, and then tell me what you think (remember to be civil, of course).

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