Food (Safety) Fight
By: Richard Raymond

Is the sky falling?

Source of Article: Industry Blogs

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

So is this the coming pandemic the local, state and federal public health agencies have been planning, preparing and drilling for, or is it a case of Chicken Little crying "the sky is falling?" Too early to tell, but by the time this is seen in print we will know much more than we do at the time I am writing this.


The facts about swine flu are as follows: Swine flu viruses can be passed between pigs and humans and often are. The danger arises when the virus mutates and results in easily passing from human to human. The lethality of this apparent mutant virus is still unknown, but is critical to know to determine if this is truly a public health emergency or not


An outbreak occurred among soldiers in Fort Dix in 1976 and caused what was maybe the last big scare about a pandemic event. That scare led to rapid development of a vaccine we hoped would protect us, but may have caused more serious illnesses than the virus actually did. We need to have learned from that.


We have had endemics on more than one occasion since the great flu pandemic of 1918-19, but we have never had the 24/7 news coverage announcing each and every new case as we saw on Monday.


What is different today from 1918 is:

         We have flu vaccines that might help fight off this virus.

         We have recognized the pathogen.

         We have new antivirals that appear to be effective in fighting this virus.

         We also have the national stockpile of pharmaceuticals and other medical provisions ready and available.

         And we are much better prepared to respond to an infectious disease agent as a result of the federal government's funding of state and local public health entities in response to 9/11 and the following Anthrax attacks through the US postal service.


As compared to the avian flu, this virus at first blush appears to be more easily transmitted human-to human, but is much less virulent.


But until we learn more about the real threat, cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands frequently. And get a flu shot every fall regardless of the threat.

4/28/2009 12:16 PM 


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