Swine-Bird-Zombie Mix!

What happens if the current strain of swine flu (H1N1) bumps into its friend, the bird flu (H5N1) and they mingle together to create a new virus?

“The current swine flu strain…has sickened more than 2,300 people in 24 countries. While people can catch bird flu from birds, the bird flu…does not easily jump from person to person. It has killed at least 258 people worldwide since it began to ravage poultry stocks in Asia in late 2003.

The WHO reported two new human cases of bird flu on Wednesday. One patient is recovering in Egypt, while another died in Vietnam — a reminder that the H5N1 virus is far from gone.

Experts have long feared that bird flu could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people.

An infectious disease specialist said while flu experts are discussing the scenario, he has yet to see specific evidence causing him to think it will happen.

“Everything with influenza is a huge guessing game because Mother Nature holds all the rules, and we don’t even know what they are, so anything’s possible,” he said. “We don’t have any evidence that this particular reassortment is that much more likely to pick up H5N1 than any other reassortment out there.”

So.  To recap:  Nobody knows what’s going to happen.  There will another deadly pandemic at some point (everyone keeps saying “we are due for one”), because that’s just the way these things work.  But we don’t know where or when or how or what animal!  Also, I think there needs to be more research on potential reassortment of the swine, bird, and zombie flu.

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Look to the South

So the H1N1 virus is not a big deal anymore, right?  Not according to this article, which has some pretty scary things to say.

“The Southern Hemisphere has been mostly spared in the swine flu epidemic. That could change when winter starts in coming weeks with no vaccine in place, leaving half the planet out in the cold.

Experts fear public health systems could be overwhelmed — especially if swine flu and regular flu collide in major urban populations.

“You have this risk of an additional virus that could essentially cause two outbreaks at once,” Dr. Jon Andrus said at the Pan American Health Organization’s headquarters in Washington.

There’s also a chance that the two flus could collide and mutate into a new strain that is more contagious and dangerous.

“We have a concern there might be some sort of reassortment and that’s something we’ll be paying special attention to,” World Health Organization spokesman Dick Thompson said in Geneva.

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