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

Contagion. Swine flu

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

Other posts on swine flu:

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Want to know more about the origins of deadly flu pandemics? My book Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching is available free at

    • Jodie Hyde

      Do you get a flu vaccine every year?

  • vernondemille

    . Greed got the best of many people. Not a lot of people are paying the price. One really nasty result is someone going to the closing table and finding out that their source of money dried up overnight.All of a sudden, certain markets stabilized. Then they went backwards

  • Dan B

    Given the recent transmission of H7N9 to humans in China, what can we expect from this virus?