Sunday, April 26, 2009
Notably absent were any plans to lock-down the United States' border with Mexico, an obvious measure that would impede the disease's migration northwards. This stands in contrast with actions already taken by countries like Japan who are discouraging if not outright restricting travel to and from Mexico.
As we reported yesterday, evidence suggests that the disease is already widespread in the U.S., but with flu awareness and fear exploding over the last few days, case numbers are likely to escalate rapidly as people with flu symptoms flock for medical treatment.
So the soaring numbers of U.S. Mexican flu cases over the next week will produce the illusion that the disease is spreading rapidly, when in actuality we are only gaining insight on the true, existing prevalence of the disease.
The Mexican Flu has several characteristics that suggest it might be a man-made bioweapon. Perhaps most concerning of all is that the disease has pig, bird and human flu components, suggesting that it not only targets humans hosts, but pigs and perhaps birds as well. From the CDC's recent press briefing:
We know so far that the viruses contain genetic pieces from four different virus sources. This is unusual. The first is our North American swine influenza viruses. North American avian influenza viruses, human influenza viruses and swine influenza viruses found in Asia and Europe.Russia has already halted pork imports from Mexico and several U.S. states. In my post yesterday, I mentioned the potential impact of the flu to hog farmers. If birds become infected as well, the U.S. Government might also slaughter chickens and turkeys throughout the country.
That particular genetic combination of swine influenza virus segments has not been recognized before in the U.S. or elsewhere. Of course, we are doing more testing now and looking more aggressively for unusual influenza strains. So we haven't seen this strain before but we haven't been looking as intensively as we are these days.
The viruses are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine anti-viral drugs but they are sensitive or susceptible to oseltamivir and zanamivir, the newer anti-viral drugs for flu. And at this time we don’t know exactly how people got the virus. None of the patients have had direct contact with pigs.You can get swine influenza without direct contact but it's a bit more unusual. And we believe at this point that human-to-human spread is occurring. That's unusual.
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