This link below is an interactive map where you can move the mouse to the round spots and get info. Looks like Ark is clear so I'm letting myself out of lock down tomorrow to return to my wild social life! In the article, however, it points to the great injustice done to our fellow pigs with transfer of the virus from humans to pigsb(scroll down to sentence in red)! Typical humans--point fingers to deflect blame.
May 3, 2009
No Signs of Sustained Global Spread of Swine Flu
By DENISE GRADY and LIZ ROBBINS
The World Health Organization announced an increase in the number of confirmed cases of swine flu on Saturday, but said there was no evidence of sustained spread in communities outside North America, which would fit the definition of a pandemic.
Health officials say the continuing outbreak must be closely monitored.
“At the present time, I would still propose that a pandemic is imminent because we are seeing transmission to other countries,” Dr. Michael J. Ryan, the director of the World Health Organization global alert and response team, said in a teleconference from Geneva. “We have to expect that Phase 6 will be reached. We have to hope that it is not.”
Phase 6, the highest level in the organization’s alert system, is a pandemic. But Dr. Ryan emphasized that the term describes the geographic spread of a disease, not its severity. There can be a pandemic of a mild disease. The current level, Phase 5, means that the disease is spreading in communities — not just within households or in returning travelers — in two countries in one of the World Health Organization’s six regions, in this case the United States and Mexico.
Phase 5 also means a pandemic is imminent. To move up to Phase 6, community spread would have to occur in at least one other country in another region.
On Saturday, Canadian health officials said that the virus had been found in sick pigs on one farm in Alberta, the first report of the swine flu’s actually being found in swine. Previously, there had been heated debate about whether the virus could infect pigs, even though its genetic makeup clearly points to its having originated in swine at some point.
But people were infecting each other, and until Saturday, no pigs had been found with the virus — a fact that the pork industry used to bolster its argument that the virus should not even be named for swine. But researchers, busy with human cases, were not really looking for the disease in pigs.
The news from Canada changes things. But it has a somewhat unexpected twist: a person appears to have spread the disease to the pigs, and not the other way around. A worker at the farm had traveled to Mexico, fallen ill there and unknowingly brought the disease back to Canada last month. The worker has recovered.
About 10 percent of the 2,200 pigs on the farm got sick. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, all recovered without treatment in five days.
The entire herd remains under quarantine as a precaution.
“One of the reasons for watching this very closely is the potential for the virus passing back from the pigs to human beings,” David Butler-Jones, the chief public health officer of Canada, said at a news conference in Ottawa.
He emphasized that the infection of the pigs by the human virus does not pose any increased threat to human health or the food supply.
“The eating of pork is absolutely not a problem,” Dr. Butler-Jones said.
Despite assurances from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian agriculture officials, some countries banned imports of pork and pork products from Canada even before Saturday’s announcement. Brian Evans, the executive vice president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said that the Canadian government had informed the United States about the finding in Alberta. American officials, he added, indicated that they did not plan to ban Canadian products.
On Saturday the W.H.O reported that there were 658 confirmed cases of the illness, officially known as Influenza A(H1N1) , in 16 countries. Dr. Ryan said that the health organization was sending 2.4 million doses of antiviral drugs to 72 countries, including many poor countries that do not have supplies of their own.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Saturday that there were 160 cases confirmed by laboratory tests in 21 states. (The agency posts the case count once a day; states sometimes report new cases later the same day, but they are not added to the official total until the next day.) Thirteen people have been hospitalized.
“It’s important to remember that with seasonal flu, we get 200,000 hospitalizations each year, mostly the very old or very young or those with other problems that put them at high risk,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, head of respiratory disease at the disease centers, said at a news conference.
Some businesses are already trying to cash in on the outbreak, and the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have begun advising consumers to watch out for Internet scams selling useless drugs and ineffective masks to treat or prevent swine flu.
In Mexico, health authorities expressed cautious optimism about what they called a “stabilizing” situation. For the second day in a row, Mexico City, with most of the confirmed cases, did not record any deaths attributable to the virus.
As of Saturday morning, Mexico had confirmed 473 cases of H1N1, out of the 1,303 suspected cases that had been tested, indicating that the outbreak may be much smaller than it initially seemed. The death toll was raised Saturday night to 19.
Mexico had 159 deaths thought to be caused by swine flu. But many had other causes: 66 have now been attributed to other illnesses. Other cases have yet to be tested.
Dr. Schuchat of the C.D.C. took a cautious view of the optimistic reports from Mexico.
“I’m encouraged by what I’ve heard out of Mexico, but it’s important that we remain vigilant,” she said. “We’ve seen times when things appeared to be getting better and then got worse. For example, in Canada’s outbreak of SARS, things were said to be getting better, then there was a second wave in nursing homes. I suspect that in Mexico we’ll be holding our breath for some time.”
One source of concern and puzzlement in Mexico is the breakdown of deaths by gender. Of the 16 whose causes of death had been confirmed on Friday, 12 were women, including one who was pregnant. Mexico’s health secretary, José Ángel Córdova, confirmed that the flu seems to have struck harder at women than men in Mexico, but he could not explain why.
Like many of the new or emerging infections that have taken the world by surprise — SARS and avian flu are examples — this one seems to have arisen at what scientists call the “animal-human interface.”
“I think this is a phenomenon we’ve been observing over the last few decades,” Dr. Ryan said. He noted that some major threats to human health were of animal origin, including viruses that can wreak havoc when they jump from one species to another.
“We have seen in the past that disease can spread from pigs to humans,” Dr. Ryan said. “It usually dead ends with one or two cases.”
But in this case, he said, the disease is now spreading from person to person, with no evidence that pigs were transmitting it to people.
Still, he said, “the animal-human interface needs to be watched carefully.”
Infectious disease experts say it will be important to watch what this virus does over the coming weeks and months, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, which will soon confront its winter flu season. If H1N1 takes hold there, that will be a red flag to scientists.
“What could indeed happen is that this virus could dampen here during the summer per usual, and go to the Southern Hemisphere and pick up steam there and come back to bite us in our winter season next January and February, and it might come back in a more virulent form,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a public health and infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University. “It’s an influenza virus, and you just can’t predict what those critters are going to do.”
Particularly worrisome is that a seasonal flu strain, common in the Southern Hemisphere and elsewhere, is resistant to Tamiflu, and could in theory pass that resistance to the new virus.
Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, also said the new virus could head south, and should be tracked closely.
“It will presumably give some insight into how this virus is evolving both in transmissibility and in virulence,” Dr. Fineberg said.
Meanwhile, as officials in the United States and elsewhere make plans for vaccine production, Dr. Schaffner said, “All that activity is very prudent.”
Donald G. McNeil Jr. contributed reporting from New York, Ian Austen from Ottawa and Larry Rohter from Mexico City.