Scientists are struggling to identify the disease, describing it as a new strain of the virus that is a deadly mixture of pig, human, and bird influenza genes. To better understand the new disease, virologists and pathologists from around the world convened a meeting on Saturday in Geneva to share insights and test results aimed at containing and eventually eradicating this new killer.
Those attending the WHO meeting are particularly concerned with stemming the tide of the spread of the disease before it reaches verifiable pandemic proportions. So far, the disease seems to be attacking otherwise healthy young adults, while the elderly and infants, typically most vulnerable to such maladies, seem to be relatively unaffected. This worries scientists and historians as it calls to mind the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 that killed nearly 40 million people worldwide. Avoiding such a global tragedy is the principal and propelling goal of the assembled health care specialists.
Doctors report that those suffering from this flu bug are demonstrating symptoms similar to those suffering from the regular flu virus: coughing, fever, and sore throat. Some of the American victims, however, are also complaining of diarrhea and vomiting. The primary impediment to fighting and surviving a bout with this new virus is that humans do not have a natural immunity to ward off diseases that are mixed with animal genes, this not only exacerbates the potency and deadliness of the disease, but it makes it much more difficult for scientists to develop an effective vaccine.
The rapid spread of the disease and its diagnosis in people from Texas and California have dismayed officials at the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and have dampened hope that the disease could be readily and rapidly contained. As a matter of fact, the level of concern among many in the Mexican government has prompted that country’s authorities to warn its citizens against attending events such as concerts or movies where they might unwittingly come into contact with those suffering from the disease and thus precipitate its dissemination.
Panic, confusion, anger, and fear are spreading through Mexico as rapidly as is the swine flu that foments these feelings. At hospitals throughout the country, many wait anxiously for test results praying that the cough or fever from which they or their loved ones suffer are only symptomatic of the normal, treatable influenza virus and not the new and fatal form. A genetically mutated strain of swine flu that for good reason has thousands of Mexicans, Americans, and potentially millions worldwide, panicking in fear of contracting an extremely communicable and as yet incurable disease.
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