Contagion: bad timing for CDC report of new swine flu strain

September 4, 2011 by Michael Greger M.D. in News with 3 Comments

A week before the premiere of Contagion, a star-studded thriller about (spoiler alert!) a pork-borne pandemic, is unfortunate timing for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to announce the identification of a new strain of swine flu in two young American children, a boy and a girl. The girl had visited an agricultural fair in Pennsylvania and had contact with pigs, but the boy who was hospitalized only had contact with someone who themself had contact with pigs two weeks prior, which “suggests the possibility that limited human-to-human transmission of this influenza virus occurred.”

The newly identified virus is a hybrid mutant combining a gene from the 2009 pandemic virus with genes from the swine flu virus that emerged and spread throughout factory farms in the United States a dozen years ago. The 2009 influenza pandemic was mild, hospitalizing a quarter million Americans, but killing only about a thousand children. The CDC is on alert for additional cases of the new strain.

Forty of my videos on the threat of swine flu can be found at “Flu Factories: Tracing the Origins of the Swine Flu Epidemic.” I’m honored to be presenting at the International Conference on Virology this week and I’ll report back on the latest from the trenches.

Today’s and tomorrow’s new video-of-the-day speaks to another pig-borne epidemic called neurocysticercosis, pork tapeworms infesting people’s brains.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: Esparta / Flickr

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Dr. Michael Greger

About Michael Greger M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

View all videos by Michael Greger M.D.

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