Swine Flu Likely Spreading Directly Among Humans
A ten-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl were diagnosed with swine flu in Southern California, leading scientists to wonder if swine flu is spreading directly among humans. Neither child had reported contact with swine.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the two cases of swine flu April 21 in a dispatch of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) online. In both cases, DNA segments were noted, not normally found in the influenza virus. According to the CDC report, regular flu vaccine is unlikely to provide protection. The virus was resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner says it is not known if the type of swine flu found in the children is treatable with the antiviral medications Tamiflu and Relenza.
The ten-year-old boy diagnosed with swine flu traveled by air from San Diego to Dallas while ill with flu-like symptoms, and recovered without incident within one week. He tested positive for influenza A virus, but negative for human subtypes of influenza H1N1, H3N2, and H5N1. The CDC determined that the child had swine flu.
The second child, a nine-year-old girl, was also diagnosed with swine flu and recovered with antibiotic treatment and antihistamines. The child had symptoms of cough and fever. Neither child had severe symptoms.
Stephen Munday, MD, MPH, the public health officer for Imperial County, in Southern California is investigating close contacts of the children for clues about how the children developed swine flu. Munday says, "Other cases of swine flu may have occurred but remained undetected because they were mild and/or were not evaluated."
Physicians are advised to remain alert about the possibility of swine flu in patient presenting with flu symptoms anywhere in the country. The CDC recommends that any specimens from patients that do not test as influenza A, type H1N1, H3N2, or H5N1, be sent to the CDC Influenza Division, Virus Surveillance and Diagnostics Branch Laboratory.
The CDC reports that 12 cases of swine flu in humans have been reported since the end of 2005. Now there are seven reported cases of swine flu since the April 21 special dispatch from the CDC. Everyone diagnosed with swine flu has recovered, with one person requiring hospitalization.
The strain of swine flu that seems to be spreading directly among humans curiously includes genes from swine flu, avian flu and human flu viruses from North America, Europe and Asia according to the CDC's Nancy Cox. Symptoms include more than the usual flu- associated vomiting and diarrhea, coughing, fever, sore throat and muscle aches.
Dr. Anne Schuchat from the CDC says there is no cause for major concern, and more cases of swine flu are expected.
A swine flu vaccine is under investigation, but so far, none is available. Your best protection from swine flu or any flu strain is good hand washing and, avoidance of others who are sick.
If you have flu symptoms, contact your healthcare provider for testing, especially if you live or have travelled in San Diego County or Imperial County, California or San Antonio, Texas. The CDC has determined that swine flu is spreading directly among humans.