|Wikinews has related news: At least 71 deaths in Mexico 'likely linked' to swine flu outbreak|
In March and April 2009, more than 1,000 cases of swine flu in humans were detected in Mexico, and more than 80 deaths are suspected to have a connection with the virus. The Mexican fatalities are said to be mainly young adults, a hallmark of pandemic flu. Following a series of reports of isolated cases of swine flu, the first announcement of the outbreak in Mexico was documented on April 23, 2009.
The origins of the new Swine Influenza Virus SIV-H1N1 strain remain unknown. One theory is that Asian and European strains traveled to Mexico in migratory birds or in people, then combined with North American strains in Mexican pig factory farms before jumping over to farm workers. The Mexican health agency acknowledged that the original disease vector of the virus may have been flies multiplying in manure lagoons of pig farms near Perote, Veracruz, owned by Granjas Carroll, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.
Some of the cases have been confirmed by the World Health Organization to be due to a new genetic strain of H1N1. The new H1N1 strain has been confirmed in 16 of the deaths and 44 others are being tested as of April 24, 2009.
The seasonal flu tends to kill just a fraction of 1% of those infected. In Mexico, about 71 deaths out of roughly 1,000 cases represents a fatality rate of about 7.1%. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, had a fatality rate of about 2.5%.
Statistical projections for this virus pathology based upon the same infection rate as the Spanish flu pandemic and current fatality rate, indicates that as many as 284 million deaths could occur worldwide as a result of the genesis of this new Swine Influenza Virus SIV-H1N1 strain.
At 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 26, the New Zealand Minister of Health confirmed that 22 students returning from a school trip from Mexico had flu-like symptoms (most likely swine flu). 13 of the students with flu-like symptoms were tested and 10 tested positive for Influenza A, their cases strongly suspected to be the swine flu strain. However there is a possibility that the infected are not infected with the swine flu but other forms of the flu. The government has suggested that citizens of New Zealand with flu-like symptoms should see their physician immediately.
There have been five cases of possible swine flu in Canada, according to the Canadian Press. Two are in British Columbia, and three in Nova Scotia. According to the provincial government, four students in Windsor, Nova Scotia have confirmed cases of swine flu.
The new strain appears to be a recombinant between two older strains. Preliminary genetic characterization found that the hemagglutinin (HA) gene was similar to that of swine flu viruses present in U.S. pigs since 1999, but the neuraminidase (NA) and matrix protein (M) genes resembled versions present in European swine flu isolates. Viruses with this genetic makeup had not previously been found to be circulating in humans or pigs, but there is no formal national surveillance system to determine what viruses are circulating in pigs in the U.S.
According to University of Virginia virologist Frederick Hayden, the most recent flu season was dominated by H1N1 viruses, and people who had received flu shots in the U.S. may have some protection against swine flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seasonal influenza strain H1N1 vaccine is thought to be unlikely to provide protection against the new Swine Influenza Virus SIV-H1N1 strain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus has been detected in
multiple areas, indicating that containment is unlikely. This is exacerbated by the incubation
and infectious periods of influenza.