For a long time bird flu was predicted to be the next worldwide epidemic. While we waited for this version of the virus to attack, swine flu made its dramatic debut on the public health scene. It appears that our best defense against avian flu just happens to be our cold noses. The bird flu strain of the virus thrives in temperature warmer than human noses can provide, so the virus has been unable to mutate into a variation that could cause a pandemic.
Swine flu on the other hand seems to have no trouble spreading. Japan is reporting its first cases of swine flu and in response is closing over 1,000 schools in Osaka and Kobe. The one day surge of 70 new cases in Japan may prompt the WHO to raise their pandemic alert level to six. Their alert levels are based not on the lethality of the virus but how it spreads.
To see how H1N1 is affecting the US, just
Cases of swine flu in the US continue to rise and although the CDC counts 4,714 confirmed cases as of May 17, public health experts believe the true number of cases is closer to 100,000. The New York Times is reporting the sixth swine flu related death in the US: assistant principal Mitchell Wiener, age 55, who worked at a school in Queens, NY. The swine flu, which at times seems like one big media hype, appears to be here to stay for a while. The easiest way to fight the flu is to wash your hands regularly, so keep on scrubbing.