April 25, 2009 | Mark Paradies

Dennis Osmer Passes on Info about Swine Flu

Here’s a note from Dennis Osmer about the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico:

Dear Friends — We’ve talked before that besides H5N1, there are other pathogens with pandemic potential — recent news brings a heightened awareness that we need to continue to pay attention.

New Swine Flu Strain

A new swine flue is showing up in California, Texas & now Mexico — everyone in the US has recovered from this new flu — the news is not so good in Mexico — WHO officials say it’s “all hands on deck” as they sort though the information — at this time, the possible mortality in Mexico is 45 people, with 943 infected — the Mexican government has warned it’s population to avoid crowds, is closing many schools, and is launching a massive vaccination campaign (though the vaccine has not been identified).

The bad news is that this flu appears to be human-to-human transmissible, which is unusual for swine viruses —

The good news is that it responds to existing anti-viral medications — Texas health officials are urging anyone with upper respiratory ailments to be tested.

Some of these outbreaks disappear almost as fast as they start — a growing medical mystery as none of the people in the US were in direct contact with pigs — it is unclear how anyone caught this virus — only a few had direct contact with others — this “casual” transmission is being investigated further — the virus appears to be a mixture of swine, avian and human viruses — neither the CDC or WHO have seen this particular virus before.


Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza — these occur regularly (typically high levels of illness, low mortality) and have been around at least since 1930, with new mutations occurring frequently — swine flu does not normally infect humans — however, sporadic human infections have occurred – most commonly with people in direct contact with pigs — typically, CDC reports one case of human swine influenza virus every one or two years — but has reported at least 9 cases this year.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu (fever, lethargy, coughing, lack of appetite) — like H5N1, you can’t get it from eating meat which has been properly cooked — the most recent swine virus isolates are resistant to amantadine, but are treatable with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) — the H1N1 swine virus are very different genetically from human H1N1 — therefore, vaccines for human season flu would not provide protection from H1N1 — according to the CDC, there is no vaccine currently available to protect humans from swine flu.    

The genetic make up of this virus is so unique that we should give it special attention.

I’m still convinced it’s smart to be informed and prepared — I’ll continue to monitor events and keep you informed — stay safe.

Best Regards


Dennis Osmer
Environment, Health, Safety, & Emergency Management

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