Scientists in Brazil report discovery of a new strain of the swine flu virus. This new strain was found in a 26-year-old man who had been hospitalized in Sao Paulo in April. He reportedly came down with flu symptoms after returning from Mexico and has since made a full recovery,
It’s not yet clear if the newly discovered strain is any more dangerous than the original strain that first surfaced in Mexico in April which has killed 108 people worldwide, but this is a concerning discovery.
While the swine flu doesn’t yet seem any more lethal than the regular flu that each winter kills 36,000 people in the United States alone, scientists fear it could mutate as it circulates around the world, become more virulent and then return to the Northern Hemispere with a vengeance in the fall, as did the swine flu virus of 1918.
The virus that caused the the epidemic of 1918 was the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. It is thought to also be caused by a swine flu virus which was an exceptionally virulent strain. It started with cases in the spring, seemingly disappeared over the summer, and then returned with a vengeance in the fall ultimately infecting 28% of all Americans and a fifth of the world’s population. During the worst of the epidemic, the virus moved quickly, killing young and healthy people within hours of the onset of symptoms.
Experiences with the 1918 swine flu pandemic have been the driving force behind the heightened concern over the most recent outbreak.
Source: CDC, June 19, 2009
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