Update on swine flu, H1N1: Flu parties, experimental-virus rumors, possible mutation …

James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Is It Really Swine Flu?

The pork lobby has a good point in not calling the new H1N1 flu virus the swine flu.  It is not a strain that usually circulates in pigs.  Rather, it contains a combination of one gene usually found in birds (avian flu), two from pigs and one from humans.  This is why some are suspicious it was an experimental laboratory virus that got into the general public.

Another point is, you are absolutely not going to get this virus from eating pork.  Of course, this is true of any flu past or future.  It just doesn’t make scientific sense.

The fact is, however, this is a brand new strain and humans have no immunity.

No Immunity But Mild Symptoms

Typical yearly flu strains are related to past strains that have mutated somewhat.  Many people have some old immunity to fight them off.  Not this one.

The good news is H1N1 causes mild symptoms for now.  Sure, some people will get very sick and a few will die, but as flu strains go, the symptoms for most will be like a bad cold.  The downside of this is sick people will be more likely to be out and about spreading it like crazy.

The CDC has documented over 2,000 cases (multiply by 10 to estimate undocumented cases) and only two deaths.

Scare of the Day: Swine Flu Mutation

The big worry is the H1N1 will die down during the summer, smoldering and mutating into some much more lethal strain to hit in the fall.  This is what happened in the horrible pandemic of 1918.  It might combine with the deadly H5N1 Avian Flu.  The mutation might even be resistant to our antiviral drugs.  No one knows.

Swine Flu Parties (Really)

Some people are having flu parties.  Like chickenpox parties, they get together for exposure to someone with the virus.  The hope is they will get this mild flu and they might have some resistance if a mutated one develops.  Most experts frown on this since you are taking a risk you may be one of those unlucky ones who gets very sick or dies.

How to Prevent the Spread of Swine Flu

If you do get sick, do everyone a favor and stay in. Like any flu this one can hit the very young, elderly or chronically ill very hard.  Several pregnant women have died also.  If you decide to wear a mask, make sure it is in the N95 type.  The virus just goes right through the pores of the other types.  A mask probably helps an infected person not spread the virus much more than it protects someone wearing it to avoid getting the infection.

I don’t know anything new on how to avoid it except avoid crowds and wash your hands frequently.

As for me, if I get it, I am starting on Tamiflu.  They are working on a vaccine and I will get it hoping it might protect me against the scary virulent mutant if it emerges this fall.

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8 Responses to “Update on swine flu, H1N1: Flu parties, experimental-virus rumors, possible mutation …”

  1. FatFighterTV Says:

    What? Flu parties??? That is bizarre! And that’s so interesting that some people think it was an experimental laboratory virus – I had not heard that.

    FatFighterTVs last blog post..Ecosumo water bottle giveaway

  2. Dr. J Says:

    Flu parties like hurricane parties in my area are lots of fun, till the namesake comes a calling. Not so much fun tben!

    Dr. Js last blog post..Celebrity news: Books, belly laughs and the Darfur Diet

  3. cathy Says:

    Good information! Hoping against hope that it doesn’t mutate into something worse over the summer, but I do think that it’s important to go into the fall with our eyes wide open to the possibility.

    cathys last blog post..Surprising HFCS food of the week!

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    FatFighter,

    experimental lab virus is speculation only.

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.s last blog post..The Modern Dentist: Today’s fun trends and relaxing help

  5. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Cathy,

    Be prepared but don’t panic

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.s last blog post..The Modern Dentist: Today’s fun trends and relaxing help

  6. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Dr. J,

    Good analogy. They’re playing with fire.

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.s last blog post..The Modern Dentist: Today’s fun trends and relaxing help

  7. lhubbard Says:

    Bloomberg did a story today on the swine-flu-from-a-lab rumors.

    http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=afrdATVXPEAk&refer=home

    Leigh Ann Otte
    Managing Editor
    James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

  8. Sagan Says:

    It all seems really blown out of proportion when so many people die of the regular flu all the time…

    Sagans last blog post..How do you react to a lack of control of your diet?

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