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Swine Flu may be Misnomer with No Clear Link to Swine

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Dr. Paul G. Auwaerter, from Johns Hopkins clinical director for Infectious Diseases suggests that swine flu may be a misnomer, given the fact that the recent influenza outbreak contains three viral strains, and only contains swine flu characteristics. He also says the same strain may return next f flu season.

He cautions that concerns about bird flu and now swine flu may even be overstated, saying that flu outbreaks are about as unpredictable as economic forecasting, and less than weather forecasting.

Auwaerter says the only surprising news this flu season is the emergence of the new H1N1 influenza strain, following an uneventful flu season. Another surprise is that the new viral strain, labeled swine flu by scientists, could cause a pandemic.

Declaring the swine flu an emergency is reasonable in order to raise awareness, says Auwaerter, We have no way of knowing what future problems the current flu strain will cause.

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The main concern is whether things will escalate. Physicians are urged to continue influenza testing into May. The emergence of the new strain of influenza “might be a bit of a misnomer” says Auwaerter, because the virus possesses no clear link to swine exposure.

Just like the swine flu outbreak of 1976, the newest flu virus may end up to be of no significance. For now, the focus should be cooperation with public health authorities.

The new flu strain has the potential to cause a pandemic, but for now, no one can anticipate its progression.

We are just beginning to understand the swine flu – the name swine flu may not even be entirely descriptive. The virus has characteristics derived from swine flu, with no clear link to swine.