CDC Worried That It May Be "Too Late" To Stop Swine Flu Pandemic

If you're concerned about the swine flu epidemic that has already killed 68 people in Mexico, you're not alone. Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC is "worried" as well, and thinks the virus will spread.

"We don't think we can contain the spread of this virus," she tells the Associated Press, "We are likely to find it in many other places. It's time to prepare, time to think ahead and to be prepared for some uncertainty."

Swine flu is "is a mix of human, pig and bird strains," that has never been documented before and is raising concern that the virus could have a disastrous impact if it continues to spread; already, 1000 people have been sickened by the illness. An extremely disturbing development has been the fact that the illness has killed perfectly healthy adults; according to the AP, "authorities said the dead so far don't include vulnerable infants and elderly," a sign that the virus is not just targeting those with weakened immune systems. According to the New York Times: "The leading theory on why so many young, healthy people die in pandemics is the "cytokine storm," in which vigorous immune systems pour out antibodies to attack the new virus."

The Times is also reporting that Mexico is attempting to halt the spread of the illness by canceling major public events and closing down schools, and the Dallas Morning News notes that health officials are most likely as concerned as they are because "swine flu is almost always passed to people directly from pigs, but the eight people in the U.S. who had this strain had no known contact with pigs. A new disease that can be passed from person to person has the risk of spreading quickly."

In slightly positive news, the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza seem to fight off the disease, though "both drugs must be taken early, within a few days of the onset of symptoms, to be most effective." Treatment and containment of the disease is still in the early stages, as WHO director Margaret Chan notes: "The situation is evolving quickly. A new disease is by definition poorly understood."

Health Officials Prepare For Swine Flu 'Pandemic' [MSNBC]
Fighting Deadly Flu, Mexico Cancels More Events [NYTimes]
Q+A: About Swine Flu [Dallas Morning News]