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“Imminent” Swine Flu Pandemic Calls For ‘Social Distancing’

April 30, 2009


The World Health Organization says “all of humanity is under threat.”

From social networking to social distancing.

This essentially is the call going out across the continents in the face of what the World Health Organization is calling “an imminent swine flu pandemic.”

The last time a global health pandemic took place was in 1918 while swine flu tranferral to human was detected in the 1930s

Ground zero of the outbreak has been identified as the small village of La Gloria in Vera Cruz, Mexico

No one is using the ‘P’ world just yet but ‘urgent care’ centers in some 21 countries are receiving more and more visitors with Mexico considered as Ground Zero for the still evolving mutant flu virus,

H1-N1, which is a weird, unexplained combination of human, swine, and the dreaded bird flu virus. Here’s how the virulent virus looks, and works:

The influenza virus is a tiny, redoubtable foe that survives by stealth and sheer numbers. Seen through an electron microscope, it resembles a spiky ball, comprising a protective shell studded with rods. It measures around 100 nanometres (100 billionths of a metre, 0.000004 of an inch) across, which is about a thousand times smaller than a bacterium.

Because it is so minute, the virus is unable to carry around the enzyme toolkit that it needs to reproduce. Instead, it hijacks the machinery of cells in the throat, nose and lungs to do this. It first enters the nose or mouth, inhaled in droplets expelled by a cough or a sneeze by an infected person.

A virus can also survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours, depending on the type of surface, temperature and humidity. This means the virus can picked up on the fingers and transferred to the mucous membranes if the person touches their nose, eyes or mouth.

The virus uses its spike to bind to, and then invade, an epithelial cell in the respiratory tract. Once inside, it releases a package of genetic instructions, called RNA, that use the cell’s machinery to make parts for new virus particles.

The parts are knitted together to form hundreds of new virus particles that then burst out of the now wrecked cell and go on to infect other cells. Cells that are attacked in the throat, lungs and muscles give rise to the classic symptoms of a sore throat, respiratory wheeze and muscle ache.

The high fever that is also a hallmark of flu is a response of the immune system against the invader. This defensive reaction continues until the viruses are eliminated. Most people recover without complications after a week or two, but the disease can be dangerous for people with a chronic condition such as asthma or heart disease, or for the elderly, very young and others with a weaker immune system.

It can also lead to bacterial infection, such as bronchitis or life-threatening pneumonia. Flu viruses fall into three main families. Type A, the commonest, not only circulates among humans but also among birds and pigs, providing a unique opportunity to acquire new genetic variants that can leap the species barrier and spark a pandemic.

Type B can also cause epidemics, but usually produces a milder disease than Type A. Type C viruses, like Type B, are humans-only pathogens but have never been associated with a large epidemic. Virus families are further sub-divided according to their two surface proteins, haemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N).


The latest global image of just where the killer virus is currently present shows the Philippines and the rest of Asia safe so far but the need for everyone to exercises utmost care must continue to be taken to heart.

So let’s limit face to face social networking to the minimum for now and stay with FaceBook, Multiply and the other strictly no contact, electronic beso-besos and hugs and kisses.

Better safe than sorry.

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