Several nights ago Ian Punnett interviewed Jack Horner about breakthrough research that may lead to recreation of dinosaurs during the weekend edition of the popular late-night radio program Coast to Coast AM. However, throughout the program, several calls were coming from concerned listeners regarding the frightening outbreaks of Swine Flu being reported in the middle Americas, as well as parts of the US. Later on Sunday, Punnett commented at his blog on Associated Press reports saying “that now 8 more Americans have joined the ranks of close to 1000 Mexicans who are known victims of the swine flu, 68 of whom have died.”
A lot of what is so frightening about this new strain of Swine Influenza has to with its as-of-yet unknown origins. One proposed theory involves Asian and European strains which may have traveled to Mexico via migratory birds (or possibly even infected humans), which then combined with North American strains in Mexican pig factory farms. Farm workers at these locations then may have been exposed to the virus. Mexican health agency officials have also suggested that “flies multiplying in manure lagoons of pig farms near Perote, Veracruz” may have also provided a medium for the spread of this new strain.
While there are certainly more physically frightening parasitic organisms out there, the potential threat of this new strain of Swine Flu appears to be on everyone’s mind right now.
A November 2007 clinical study written by scientists with the Food Animal Health Research Program discussed the varieties of the Swine Influenza strain. The paper describes that in swine “three influenza A virus subtypes (H1N1, H3N2, and H1N2) are circulating throughout the world. In the United States, the H1N1 subtype was exclusively prevalent among swine populations before 1998; however, since late August 1998, H3N2 subtypes have been isolated from pigs. As of 2004, H3N2 virus isolates in US swine and turkey stocks were triple reassortants, containing genes from human (HA, NA, and PB1), swine (NS, NP, and M), and avian (PB2 and PA) lineages.”
The Associated Press reported earlier today that several countries have begun prepping for the worst, as worries continue to increase regarding “a worldwide pandemic.” President Obama addressed a gathering of scientists earlier, telling them his administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) “has declared a public health emergency as a precautionary tool to ensure that we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively.” Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh decried Obama’s assertions on his radio program earlier today, noting the fact that a head for Obama’s DHHS has not yet been selected, then criticized the performance of those holding the position in the past.
The AP article also noted that “The quickening pace of developments in the United States in response to some 1,600 swine flu infections in neighboring Mexicoby