We are not epidemiological experts or scientists intimately familiar with flu viruses. We are, however, concerned about the emergence of this hybrid virus as much as anyone.
There is a chance that a suitable environment for this virus was found in a pig farm where animals are housed in extreme confinement. According to Biosurveillance, from February through April, there was a dramatic increase in acute respiratory infections in La Gloria, a small town in Veracruz. Nearly 60% of the small town's population was affected. As Biosurveillance warns, there is no epidemiological evidence to link the farm to the current swine-avian-human virus. That there is a correlation between the pig farm and the sudden spike in respiratory infections means just that. No causation has yet been established. It seems fair to point out that pigs, particularly those raised in intense confinement, can serve as an intermediary host, helping to spawn a virus that contains avian, human and pig genes....allowing for zoonosis, or a disease that can cross species.
Even if this particular farm is not the source point, our reliance on industrial agriculture does nothing but foster the creation of hybrid viruses. We could all do ourselves a world of good by eliminating the factory farming model of agriculture.
For an in-depth timeline of events, we encourage you to visit Biosurveillance, which includes information from Veratect Corporation.
We understand that tens of thousands of people die from the "normal flu" virus each year in the United States. This virus, though, is affecting people after the normal flu season has ended. It is also a virus that current flu vaccines are most likely ineffective against.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) both suggest simple measures to help reduce the likelihood of transmission - cover your mouth/nose when sneezing and wash your hands frequently. The CDC has information at their website.
We firmly believe that the current system of raising animals for their flesh, milk and eggs is not only animal cruelty but a breeding ground for contagious diseases.
And while we agree that "swine flu" is a misnomer, that this virus contains genetic material from birds, pigs and humans, we cannot help but read in wonder at the pork industry's cries of foul play at the term "swine flu". Their biggest fear? That people might reduce their consumption of pork. We hope their fear is realized - they do not care about your health, it is not the bottom line. More than that, we hope that this virus loses steam and causes no more further harm.
Stay safe and healthy, folks.