Swine flu: Central & South America, Asia, New York update

Stories in Spanish: Costa Rica becomes the first Central American country to confirm swine flu ("gripe porcina"). A 21 year old who had traveled to Mexico is in stable condition. An additional 16 cases were examined but were negative. Brazil is also examining 11 travelers; cases are also being examined in Panama, Honduras, Argentina, and Uruguay, and Chile.

In Asia, South Korea is examining a possible case, while China's stepped up its efforts to look for cases (and blocked import of pork from the US and Mexico).

Most of the cases that are being examined have traveled to Mexico recently, but secondary spread may be occurring in New York City. 45 cases have been confirmed to date, but many more are suspected or have been alluded to in news reports. This extended human-to-human chain of transmission is the worrisome part--if this is efficient, it's going to be much more difficult to get ahead of the virus and minimize spread. Expect much focus in the coming days and weeks to be on contacts of infected cases, in an effort to determine the frequency of secondary transmission...

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As noted yesterday, it's flu season. That includes bird flu. So we are seeing cases pop up. Yet another in Indonesia and the father-son cases in China. Then reports out of Pakistan of the first human cases on the Indian sub-continent. Those case are as yet unconfirmed. Now WHO is confirming cases…
Sorry for the radio silence--I've been working on grants and manuscripts like a fiend, and so have tried to limit as many distractions as possible (which, unfortunately, includes blogging). However, the swine flu news is right up my alley, so I do just want to say a few words about it, and point…
A new strain of swine flu has been confirmed in 18 deaths in Mexico, and is suspected as the cause of another 63 deaths (for a total of 81) and 1,324 illnesses. Yesterday, 5,289 people showed up at health centers in Mexico's Federal District (which includes Mexico City) with respiratory symptoms.…
China has just registered its 26th known case of bird flu and its 17th death. I emphasize known, because in a country of over 1.3 billion that has not been able to eradicate this virus from its vast poultry population, it would seem the real number is probably quite a bit higher. But what I want to…

I am vainly searching for information on the Mexican cases. How many had direct animal contact? I read elsewhere that there was no swine flu epidemic in pigs in Mexico. If so where did this suddenly come from?

Also why is the transmission risk person to person so different. Clearly most cases are transmitted this way, but there seems to be a major difference not only in virulence but in transmissability of the Mexican subtype in contrast to the "identical subtype" isolated in US/other cases.

Can anyone explain these to me?

No idea. I was listening to the B.C. patient talking about how many people she interacted with in Canada, coughing etc, before she was diagnosed & none of them have caught it. Health officials here seem to think it's not spreading human-to-human easily.

It has been reported that this new virus isolated from a swine flu patient contains some genetic material belonging to the swine fever virus which attacks pigs. At some time in the past, the swine fever virus in pigs must have gained entry into humans in close and repeated contact without producing any disease. This provides the opportunity for the virus to adapt to the human environment and then mutates to produce a disease in man that is transmissible to another human. Since human beings do not have the immunity against this new disease, therefore it tends to be very serious and sometimes fatal.

However, regarding person to person transmission, a host of other factors like the exposure dose (of virus), and the biological variation between individuals play a role too. So, not everyone in contact will get the disease, and of those who do, it will appear in various forms of severity.

Hope this helps.

I am planing to go to San francisco,Las vagas,Grand canion on 16th may from India.is it safe now to go?(as swine flu is concern)

By Dr.Gautam Saha (not verified) on 01 May 2009 #permalink

Dr. Saha, no one can answer your question at this point. The US has a much larger supply of Tamiflu than does India. The weather in May should be great for SF, Vegas and the Canyon.

How can a doctor identify the swine flu? What tests are needed to perform to confirm that a patient has this flu?
Fue symtoms are similar in all flu types. Please advise.

why is it taking so long to establish whether or not the other 100 Mexican's died of Swine flu?

By lynne quane (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

It is kind of worrying... there's roughly, what? 7 Billion people in the world and the mortality is around 1% at the moment so that means 70 million people will die worldwide of swine flu. That's 700,000 in the UK and 3 million in the US alone which is a lot of people! There's a very up to date outbreak map tracker and news links on www.flutrack.info, seems to be updated several times a day.

Claire, you're making the assumption that everyone will contract the H1N1 virus. That is highly unlikely.
Your estimate of near 1% case mortality is higher than most. Figures I've seen are less than one half of one percent.