This is an internal memo from my Corporate Office yesterday.
Increased human cases attributed to Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) H1N1 have recently received increased media attention. The World Heath Organization (WHO) has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, but has not declared a Pandemic at this time. This situation is being monitored and may change. Researchers are still trying to determine how easily the virus is transmitted person to person and it's too early to predict the severity of the outbreaks seen. The U.S. government declared a public health emergency -- a step Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said “is standard operating procedure and allows us to free up federal state and local agencies and their resources for prevention and mitigation". While we expect the number of reported cases and resultant geographies to expand in the days ahead, it is important to note that outside of Mexico, symptoms associated with reported cases to date have been relatively moderate.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease that primarily impacts pigs. It is caused by influenza A virus, classically H1N1. Other strains can also be involved (H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1). Swine can become infected by both avian (bird) and human strains of influenza. If pigs are infected with both human and swine strains, they may combine to create a strain that is more easily transmitted among humans. This strain is different from the “avian flu” virus of several years ago.
Mexico remains the epicenter of the current human Swine Flu outbreak, and confirmed cases have also surfaced in the US, Canada, and New Zealand, with suspect cases elsewhere. As of April 26, 4:00 pm EDT, 20 cases have been confirmed in the US, with no fatalities; while over 1300 cases and 85 deaths have been reported in Mexico. The latest information in the US is available from the Centers of Disease Control www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.
This site also has a link to the latest WHO information.
Symptoms are typical of seasonal influenza, including fever (usually high), headache, extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, and chills. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. In rare cases, the disease can progress to pneumonia and respiratory failure, leading to death. This has not been seen in the US cases currently under close watch.
Disease Control in Humans
According to the CDC, Swine Flu is not transmitted though properly cooked pork or pigmeat. Transmission typically occurs through direct contact with infected pigs, infected people or contaminated surfaces. The primary mode of transmission in this outbreak is still under investigation. Human seasonal influenza vaccine is not likely to protect humans from the H1N1 swine flu strain. The CDC has indicated that the antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir can lessen the symptoms of this virus, but wholesale distribution and inoculation have not been advised.
CDC recommends following precautions for seasonal influenza to control spread of disease, including vigilant personal hand hygiene and use of alcohol based hand sanitizers. Additionally infection control precautions are very important, which includes thorough disinfection of contaminated surfaces in areas with ill individuals, cough etiquette, and proper hand hygiene.