Just when you thought a mild flu season was over...

It seemed eerily quiet in Iowa this flu season, a very wimpy epidemic.

So now that it’s almost May, we are suddenly running headlong into the real story of this season, which is the emergence of a new swine influenza virus (SIV, of the H1N1 variety). This story is moving very quickly right now, so by the time I post it will likely be out of date. We’ve gone from 2 U.S. cases yesterday to a total of 7 today, in California and Texas. The details are here as they are updated.

Human SIV cases have become a bit more common, but of the 12 cases reported between December 2005 and January 2009, 11 were in persons with some pig contact (either direct contact, or being “near” pigs). So the report of all these cases in those with no pig contact is suggestive of human-to-human transmission.

We also now know that a much larger SIV outbreak, responsible for up to 60 deaths, is ongoing in Mexico, preliminary details here. I can’t find whether this virus has been confirmed to be the same as that found in TX and CA, but I’d wager that it is.

So the CDC has new interim guidance for SIV, here, and the WHO is convening an expert panel to determine whether to raise the global pandemic alert level (based upon sustained human-to-human transmission of a new virus). Fasten your seatbelts…..


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