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Swine Flu

Someone on my friends list finally posted an explanation of why Swine Flu might become a Big Deal.


"So the CDC and the WHO are releasing statements left and right, upping the alert levels and saying that the swine flu may be headed towards a global pandemic scale. It's not particularly deadly (outside of Mexico for some reason) so a lot of people wonder why all the fuss. In layman's terms, the fuss is due to the fact that it's a new virus, one that managed to cross the animal to human barrier (a feat) and then transmit human to human (a major feat). It's a combination, they say, of 4 different viruses: swine, avian, and 2 human strains. People naturally have no real built up immunity to it, which is where a great deal of risk comes in. On top of that, influenza is notorious for it's ability to mutate quickly, and so any unknown version of it that can do things like jump from animals to humans is potentially a huge risk."


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( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
mistress14star
Apr. 29th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC)
can i hug you?

i'm so glad that someone finally gets why this needs to be taken seriously(not like crazy though).
bzero
Apr. 29th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
Hugs are always welcome!

And, yes, I was looking for a balance between "Why this is important to keep an eye on" and "OH NOES ZOMBIE VIRUS DOOOOM!"
mistress14star
Apr. 29th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
exactly!
bzero
Apr. 29th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
Yay LJ being useful for something besides sharing personal drama. *chuckle*
mistress14star
Apr. 29th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
haha :)
bzero
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
And now other people are commenting with additional ideas. Yay! B)
experimental84
Apr. 29th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
Heh, no kidding, eh!

I'm nervous about this too, especially because the flu is nearly everywhere, and there's no stopping it from spreading.. but will it mutate further into a really nasty strain?

(and it's the last thing the economy needs right now, of course)
(no subject) - bzero - Apr. 30th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
May. 6th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
I like reading personal drama. Let's me know I am not alone. hehehe
(no subject) - bzero - May. 7th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC) - Expand
aineotter
Apr. 29th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
It actually may not have jumped species from any animal, but it is a 'new' virus, or at least a new combination of flu genes. It's got genetic sequneces that match some swine and avian flu viruses, but influenza viruses swap and shuffle genes like they were pokemon cards, and tend to cross species easily anyway; 'human' flu is contagious to ferrets, and can be to pigs.
Th concerning thing about this flu is the fact that so many of the serois cases hve been in youn, healthy adults, sinilar to the 1918 pandemis, and how quiclky it's speading (and outside the regular season). Not so much it's unsubstatiated zoonotic origin.
bzero
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
Hm. Also interesting. Thanks for another perspective besides "Waa! Panic!" B)
krazypink
Apr. 29th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah! I learned about the flu today in my immunology class. I'm glad that people are giving it the attention it should be getting without spouting crazy conspiracy theories. Thanks for posting.

Also, love the icon - House is one of my favorite shows.
bzero
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:38 am (UTC)
*grin* Yes. I obviously know nothing, but it's cool to have people on my friends list with something to contribute besides "This is Stupid STFU about Swine Flu" and "AAAAAH! Stay home and cover your doors and windows with sheet plastic!"
cerulean_me
Apr. 30th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this! I'll likely be passing this along.
bzero
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
OK, tho aineotter in the comment section had a different idea of what was important...
cerulean_me
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)
bzero
May. 1st, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
No problem! Thought I'd point out the full range of opinions on what's going on. LOL
(Deleted comment)
bzero
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
See aineotter's comment for a different idea.
(Deleted comment)
bzero
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
Ah. Not sure I read that comment. Hm.
scarletwildfire
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting about a sane human that can actually get the point across!

Strangely enough in Bio 102 this quarter (5 weeks now) we have only discussed: the US's broken healthcare system, what pathogens are and how bad it can get, the CDC and WHO, how infectious viruses are spread, what to do to save yourself from transmitting them, and then this week was inherited diseases. The OPs comment hits home as it covers damn near *every* point made by our professor in our lectures. Of course a significant part of yesterday's lecture was about swineflu and how relative our lectures are.
bzero
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
Ah. heh. Yay biogeeks! B)
slave_stasha
Apr. 30th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
i have nothing useful to add to this, it was a good post though and different from the "OMG i'm so worried about this!" type things i have been reading about the swine flu.

Oh yeah and House rocks!
bzero
May. 1st, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Yeah... I'm glad I posted, since others have chimed in as well. B)
stylistisme
Apr. 30th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
/hugs/

thank you so much for the additional information.
and i didn't know it was a combination of 4 different viruses!

do be safe over there! (:
bzero
May. 1st, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
I'll try! I wish I could afford to use this as an excuse to just hibernate 'til this all blows over. *grin*
solar_angel
Apr. 30th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
My understanding of the issue is that the avian flu is pretty deadly, but can't cross the species boundary in a dangerous way. The few times it's jumped, it jumped directly and ended up neutered and essentially not contagious. This is rather expected, as viruses seldom jump from birds to humans or vice versa, as we are so different biologically. Bad for the people who were in direct contact with the infected birds, but not that worrying.

The worrying thing here is that some of the genetics for the avian flu vectored through pigs. Pigs have been the vector for many historical viral epidemics and pandemics. Not only are they much more similar to humans, being complex mammals and all, but they also have a nasty habit of being able to transmit disease to and from birds. Thankfully, this time around, the mutations that make the avian flu dangerous apparently didn't become part of the new virus.

Of course, this isn't the first time this has happened. Many other flu strains, including the regular seasonal flu, occasionally have new strains pop up as they jump from ducks (which are apparently very compatible with pigs) to pigs to humans, in addition to the usual mutation cycles inside the human population. This is why (according to what I've read, anyway) a lot of the novel viruses start in China, where pigs and ducks are often raised together.

The really new thing here is that this is essentially the first time we've been able to study the progress of the disease as it spreads and mutates. The genetic sequencing technology is new, and we don't really know how often this type of pattern has emerged before we started applying that technology.
bzero
May. 1st, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
Oh. Neat. Thanks for commenting. Now I wish I'd paid more attention in biology in school. BD
(Deleted comment)
bzero
May. 1st, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
Re: Mass Transport
I'm suddenly glad you're not working at a badly-ventilated mega-hotel anymore, either! B)
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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