Beware the Fair!

Beware the Fair!

With county fair season in full swing there’s evidence of a outbreak of an H1N1 related swine flu that’s transmissible to humans.  While this particular flu is currently a relatively mild strain this is a reminder that the flu is a threat year round.

US health officials on Friday warned the public to be careful around pigs after an outbreak of flu among visitors to county fairs.

The virus does not appear to have evolved to the point where it spreads easily among humans, but it does contain a gene from the pandemic H1N1 flu that sickened millions worldwide in 2009 and 2010.

“We are concerned that… may confer the potential for the virus to infect or spread among humans to a greater extent,” said Joseph Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

…Bresee urged people to go to the doctor if they feel flu symptoms after coming into contact with pigs so that public health officials can better track the outbreak.”What we’re really going to be looking for is evidence that the virus has made that change to spread efficiently among humans,” he explained. “So far we haven’t seen that.”

via US officials warn of swine flu outbreak at fairs – Yahoo! News Canada.

…and remember that the any flu is only few mutations away from becoming a pandemic monster like the world experienced in  1918-1919, (~675,000 deaths in the U.S. and up to 50 million deaths worldwide), 1957-1958 (69,800 deaths just in the U.S.), 1968-1969 (~33,800 deaths), 2009-2010 (~8,870 and 18,300 deaths)…just to name a few.  Estimates per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

To read more about cross species flu transmission and mutation read this recent article Flu That Leapt From Birds to Seals is Studied for Human Threat from the New York Times

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