Swine Flu, Bird Flu, ah... Influenza!

Today, swine flu is one of the trending topics on Twitter. Yesterday, the WHO warned of possible pandemic as Mexico tries to contain swine flu. There have been mixed attitudes toward the confirmation of severe cases in Mexico, Texas and California. Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program, says that the virus is already "beyond containment" because of how far the virus has already spread. Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, said the current outbreak was unlikely to become a pandemic. He states that although the virus is spread human-to-human, "that's a far cry from becoming a pandemic."

It is possible that this is not the approach the public should take when dealing with this new swine flu. Viruses like swine flu, bird flu, and just the flu in general are a big deal. Already, 2 antiviral medications (amantadine and rimantadine) are obsolete in the US. Although there are 2 others (Tamiflu and Relenza) that can be used it is important to remember that it is possible that these may not always be effective. Swine flu, like bird flu and the dreadful Spanish influenza can cause phenomenal mortality rates because they also affect normal and otherwise healthy individuals. (* For Twilight fans: the Spanish influenza in 1918 is what caused Edward Cullen to be dying when he was found by Carlisle and turned into a vampire*)