This latest flu map shows the southeastern tier of states is now well involved with the spread of the H1N1 flu. While the current strain remains on the mild side, that is no guarantee that it will remain so. I feel, increasingly like a person in a gas filled room waiting for someone to strike a
I feel this way because once the virus becomes firmly established in the Midwest, it will then have a better chance to also impact the so-called ‘mega pig farms’ where large numbers of hogs are maintained in close quarters. Pigs can get infected with the flu just like humans. But, even more significantly, pigs can become infected with both human and avian forms of the flu virus at the same time. If an H1N1 (swine) virus should happen to have infected a pig that was already sick with an H5N1 (avian) strain… and, if gene re-assortment occurs, there is a possibility for a whole new strain to emerge. This ‘new’ virus could theoretically be more virulent and more infectious. Current vaccines would have no effect and we could have another ‘1918 meltdown’ all over again. Now, I’m not saying that any such thing will occur, but I tell you I feel like we are just asking for trouble with the way we manage pig production. They are, after all, a proven link from us to the bird form of flu which has proven to be deadly.
One after thought. The states with the highest population of mega pig farms are concentrated in the Midwest. States which will become increasingly involved with the H1N1 virus soon.