The recently emerged strain of swine flu has been analyzedgenetically, and scientists have concluded that it is likelyto be milder than the 1918 Spanish Flu, and milder than mostnormal winter flu. Whether or not it will mutate into a moredangerous disease in the future is not known, but given thespeed of the worldwide response and the relative mildness ofthe disease, it may die out before a second wave emerges.

Mexico has revised downward the number of deaths directlyattributable to the disease, from 20 to 7. Richard Webby, aleading expert on the flu virus at St. Jude’s Hospital inMemphis said that the virus does not have the capacity tokill like the 1918 virus.

The Centers for Disease Control published the virus’sgenetic sequence on Monday, from samples taken from patientsin California and Texas. Immediately, virologists around theworld began realizing that the virus lacks certain crucialcharacteristics that would make it more dangerous andvirulent. Of course, flu viruses are notorious for mutating,but, given present knowledge, this one is unlikely to mutateinto a more dangerous disease.

This does not mean that this flu will not kill. All fluoutbreaks kill. But it does mean that the death toll is notlikely to be high, and the duration of the threat will belimited. Nevertheless, until official warnings are lifted,care should continue to be taken.

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