News Stories

Stay Away From the Pigs at the County Fair

If you can get Legionnaire's Disease from just walking past a hot tub, you can get the flu from looking at the pigs at a county fair--and some people did. The CDC reports that four people attending an Indiana county fair this month came down with flu traced to the pigs there.

However, it's a strain of flu that doesn't pass easily from person to person, so medical officials aren't worried about a new epidemic.

But what if it start off an epidemic--or even a pandemic? the event of a global and highly lethal flu pandemic, we’ll create millions of vaccines as soon as possible--which would be hard to do with conventional methods. Darpa wants to solve this potential problem by genetically engineering plants that can produce the vaccines. Their goal is to be able to produce 10 million doses of a plant-based H1N1 influenza vaccine a month.

The standard method of creating flu vaccine involves combining the virus with a chicken embryo inside an egg. It would take nearly a billion eggs just to cover the US alone. But plant-based vaccines are developed using particles which resemble viruses on a genetic level but are non-infectious. To produce the particles, scientists synthesize the DNA of the flu virus, combine the flu DNA with bacteria, and then soak the plants with it. After soaking for a few minutes, the plants then start producing the flu-fighting particles. Those particles then become the basis for a vaccine.

The most popular plant to do this with turns out to be tobacco, because it grows quickly. And we produce 450 metric tons of this a year, most of it still subsidized by the government, even though the government ALSO sponsors anti-smoking messages (this reminds us of the recent pushing of corn in ethanol production, even though other plants work better. Before the recent drought, we had tons of subsidized corn rotting away in warehouses).

We love our subscribers and want you to stay healthy, which is why we have some special treats, just for you. You have a coupon that gets you a beautiful, hardcover copy of Whitley's wonderful novel Hybrids for only $5 (it makes great beach reading). PLUS you get to listen to incredible interviews with contactees, such as Susan and Christina, both of whom learned all about UFOs from local Indian tribes.

And just in time for bathing suit season, now EVERYONE can get the download of Anne Strieber's famous diet book for $2 off the reglar price (it now costs less than $3).



My God, I just WENT to our local County Fair, and I PETTED a pig!

Yeah, but acording to the numbers in this story, we can assume that the chances of actually catching the flu from a piggie is 1 in 75,000,000. I'm just going to assume it's still safe...

This story is nothing to sneeze at...:-)

Working in public health, I see all kinds of situations where disease is spread, and from the most unlikely sources and events. For instance, a couple of years ago the CDC investigated and reported on some cases of anthrax that were traced back to Native American drums made of cowhide.

The pandemic that killed millions in 1917 worldwide, and H1N1 originated in pigs. This does not mean steer clear of pigs completely. (In fact, we mainly get infected from other people. Just observe people in your local supermarket and see what goes on with shopping carts! Ewwww!)

Wash those hands, folks!

Yikes!!! Here we go again with the H1N1. I caught this flu from my then 83 year old mother who is now deceased. Am I immune from this flu?

Actually, the article says that the flu these people contracted is H3N2, and it's apparently uncommon for it to be spread human-to-human. From what I've read, prior infection with H1N1 will provide some sort of immunity to future exposure to the same flu strain.

Flu viruses are constantly changing, and every year the vaccine contains antigens to protect at least 3 strains that may be circulating in the population (One manufacturer is working on a 4-strain vaccine). Nancy, you are probably less likely to get H1N1 again than someone never exposed to it or immunized against it, and if you do, it will most likely be a mild case. The vaccine for 2012-2013 season will contain H1N1 as one of the 3. Although H3N2 has not jumped from pigs to humans, as with any other strain, it could change over time. One caveat: Surprises do happen. Every year the experts have to view statistics and what is going on in the Southern Hemisphere and decide about the strains to be included in the vaccine every year. Sometimes they are taken off guard by the unexpected---like H1N1 that appeared first in Mexico. No one really saw it coming, the vaccine in production the next season did not include it, and they had to scramble to develop a vaccine quickly. Oddly, this strain of flu took off during the Spring and Summer months, which was highly unusual for flu.

If you haven't seen it, 'Contagion' is an excellent movie about what can happen with a flu virus. Needless to say, those of us in public health, and especially the CDC, are great fans of the movie because it shows what could happen and in a very realistic way (Except for the CDC scientist injecting the vaccine into her thigh to test the new vaccine. We all laughed at that one!)

Once again, wash those hands! :-)

Flu viruses are constantly changing, and every year the vaccine contains antigens to protect at least 3 strains that may be circulating in the population (One manufacturer is working on a 4-strain vaccine). Nancy, you are probably less likely to get H1N1 again than someone never exposed to it or immunized against it, and if you do, it will most likely be a mild case. The vaccine for 2012-2013 season will contain H1N1 as one of the 3. Although H3N2 has not jumped from pigs to humans, as with any other strain, it could change over time. One caveat: Surprises do happen. Every year the experts have to view statistics and what is going on in the Southern Hemisphere and decide about the strains to be included in the vaccine every year. Sometimes they are taken off guard by the unexpected---like H1N1 that appeared first in Mexico. No one really saw it coming, the vaccine in production the next season did not include it, and they had to scramble to develop a vaccine quickly. Oddly, this strain of flu took off during the Spring and Summer months, which was highly unusual for flu.

If you haven't seen it, 'Contagion' is an excellent movie about what can happen with a flu virus. Needless to say, those of us in public health, and especially the CDC, are great fans of the movie because it shows what could happen and in a very realistic way (Except for the CDC scientist injecting the vaccine into her thigh to test the new vaccine. We all laughed at that one!)

Once again, wash those hands! :-)

Flu viruses are constantly changing, and every year the vaccine contains antigens to protect at least 3 strains that may be circulating in the population (One manufacturer is working on a 4-strain vaccine). Nancy, you are probably less likely to get H1N1 again than someone never exposed to it or immunized against it, and if you do, it will most likely be a mild case. The vaccine for 2012-2013 season will contain H1N1 as one of the 3. Although H3N2 has not jumped from pigs to humans, as with any other strain, it could change over time. One caveat: Surprises do happen. Every year the experts have to view statistics and what is going on in the Southern Hemisphere and decide about the strains to be included in the vaccine every year. Sometimes they are taken off guard by the unexpected---like H1N1 that appeared first in Mexico. No one really saw it coming, the vaccine in production the next season did not include it, and they had to scramble to develop a vaccine quickly. Oddly, this strain of flu took off during the Spring and Summer months, which was highly unusual for flu.

If you haven't seen it, 'Contagion' is an excellent movie about what can happen with a flu virus. Needless to say, those of us in public health, and especially the CDC, are great fans of the movie because it shows what could happen and in a very realistic way (Except for the CDC scientist injecting the vaccine into her thigh to test the new vaccine. We all laughed at that one!)

Once again, wash those hands! :-)

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