April 28th, 2009
05:48 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Stopping the spread of swine flu

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

Flu fears are growing as the swine flu outbreak spreads.

More cases were reported worldwide today, including in the United States, where at least seven people have been hospitalized. Nationwide, at least 64 cases have been confirmed in five states. While there have been no deaths so far in the U.S., health officials today warned that will change.

"I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection," said Richard Besser, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the same.

As the outbreak spreads, the search for its source has intensified. Did it originate it Mexico? That’s still not clear. Tonight, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta visits a village where the first known case in Mexico is believed to have occurred. Is the young boy who fell ill weeks ago the Holy Grail in this health crisis - Patient Zero?

Experts say the illness likely emerged in a pig infected with avian and human flu strains, then jumped to humans. According to this theory, somewhere a person picked up the virus from an infected live pig, became ill, and then passed the flu on to other people. Tonight we’ll show you how a simple sneeze can set off an epidemic. Randi Kaye teamed up with a medical expert and braved New York’s subway. Yep, there’s a big ick factor in her report – but it’s one you need to watch for your own health.

While Congress held an emergency meeting on swine flu today, President Obama asked for $1.5 billion to help fight the outbreak. Meantime, Gov. Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in California to free up more resources to stop the virus’s spread.

The fight could be a tough one. In the annals of flu viruses, this one is a newbie – a previously unseen blend of bird, human and pig viruses. And that’s what has many health experts worried. Brand new viruses can be especially deadly because their victims haven’t developed immunities to them.

We’ll spend a lot of time on this fast-moving story tonight. Dr. Gupta and Dr. Carlos Del Rio will be taking your questions. Send them our way at AC360.com.

See you at 10 p.m. eastern...

Filed under: Cate Vojdik • The Buzz
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Jean

    Is it possible to contract swine flu more than once or do you have an immunity to it after you get it?

    April 29, 2009 at 6:06 am |
  2. L.E.

    So what do I do if I don't have health insurance and think I have been infected with the Swine Flu?

    April 29, 2009 at 5:44 am |
  3. Burt from Atlanta

    I have always heard that hand sanitizer gels only shift germs on your hands and do not actually destroy them. You must wash with soap and water and dry your hands on a cloth or paper towel. Do these gels work to protect us from Swine flu and from germs in general?

    April 29, 2009 at 5:33 am |
  4. Rena Clodfelter-Stanphill

    have a question for Dr. Gupta and Dr. Carlos Del Rio:
    I had heard that 'Eating" the meat will not give you the flu. How can this be? If the pig is sick, isn't the virus in it's system? and when you consume the meat in my opinion is infected. Can you explain how this is not a danger as the news media's say it is not.
    thank you
    Rena Clodfelter-Stanphill

    April 29, 2009 at 5:11 am |
  5. Alana K.K. Dittrich

    Hi Anderson,

    I have an important question for you and Sanjay:

    Why aren't you telling people that the new health care protocol for reducing virus risk is not to block a cough or sneeze with your hand, but by lifting and bending your arm and turning your face, so that your sneeze or cough is blocked by the inside of your elbow?

    This makes great sense, since then the virus is then not on your hand – with which you touch everything and everyone, but on your elbow, which normally doesn't come into conact with anything – certainly not doorknobs, subway and bus seats, keyboards, etc. This is what we all need to know and to do to help curb the spread of cold and flu viruses of all kinds.

    I am a graduate student intern at the Prevetion and Wellness Services of the great university from which I graduated in my lovely hometown of Bellingham, Washington, and we are actively promoting this protocol

    Why don't you or Sanjay promote this new protocol regulary? That would be one of the best public services you could do, especially at this time of fear that we are on the verge of a terrifying pandemic.

    Please – get out the word on this effective new protocol!!!

    April 29, 2009 at 3:12 am |
  6. kristina

    Close our borders now! California has 100,000 people crossing the border everyday. We cannot afford to wait.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:50 am |
  7. Paul Wanio

    Does wearing a mask help against a virus? If so, what kind of mask or does it just help one to "feel" safe?

    April 29, 2009 at 2:44 am |
  8. Kathy B., Louisiana

    Earlier on another news cast a person from, I think, the CDC said that, because it takes so much time to develop a vaccine, they will not pursue a vaccine for this flu. Does this make sense? It doesn't sound like this will be a short-term outbreak. I don't understand that thinking. Please explain.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:44 am |
  9. jen

    Could this be the planet trying to purge itself of it's biggest parasite(humans)? Maybe it is survival pf the fitest or the next step in human evolution.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:43 am |
  10. Timothy Koppert

    1. Gupta, at ground zero you believe you have found patient 1.0, and there appears no mammal connection for infection.
    2. Gupta, at ground zero have you asked the local villagers if they have been in contact with strangers not local to the area prior to the onset of the illness ?
    3. Gupta, at ground zero, is there any evidence of a delivery system other than the animals present, possibly an aerosol or airplane delivery system ?
    3a. Is it possible that the illness was brough to the community from outside folks who were ill or who were somehow available to contact to intentionally ill unknown individuals from outside their social system ?
    4. Gupta, have you or anyone else compared the available strains of current flu to those available from miliatary lab distribution ?
    5. Gupta, is it possible that the flu was put in place prior to the America's Conference and off seeding occured in conjunction with other dispersal areas ?
    6.Gupta, is it possible that the flu strain is from either the Iraqi labs, the Soviet Lab where once there was an accident with e., and how does the strain compare to the one on file in Maryland/Virginia ?

    April 29, 2009 at 2:36 am |
  11. Charles

    Media coverage is born from the hope to make money. The media is a profit driven venture. What's scary makes money. Swine Flu, Terrorisim, Recession, Drug Wars, and All That's Wrong makes MONEY...if in response, we buy a hand sanitizer, hate immigrants, look differently at Mexicans, and hug our children so tightly they grow up scared...the media corporations can deliver better dividends to their shareholders. Remember their motive. And never be fooled that it's your well-being.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:27 am |
  12. enea

    someone commented on another blog that they would like to know who survives and who doesn't. that is an odd question, as immunity has everything to do with surviving any cold, much less a viral one! The young and old are vulnerable and that is a lot of people.

    what is worse is that there will be people frightened by the news and that doesn't help because they are the first ones to get this flu. fear brings your immunity down.

    I say let's all calm down, wash our hands and keep ourselves out of harm's way the best we can. that's all you can do in any crisis. oh, and be careful in public restrooms. those are the places where germs are likely to spread. bringing some lysol wouldn't hurt, just about now. In fact, at the gym tonight (24 hour Fitness in Cypress, CA), I saw they had antibacterial wipes everywhere. it's the first time I saw that many containers. it's fine, but I wish that I saw that many containers all the time because the gym has never smelled or looked better than it does now.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:04 am |
  13. Lori

    Thank you for keeping us up to date. Too bad there is not more good news to report. These are serious times but I keep looking for things to smile about.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:02 am |
  14. Kristin

    I'm in San Diego and believe the US should close the border. Thoughts?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:54 am |
  15. robert

    How many of the deaths in Mexico have been confirmed as swine flu and not some other infection?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:51 am |
  16. ellen

    I think if someone has the flu, then they and anyone they have been around should be under quarantine until they are past the contaigious period. I know this was done decades ago for small pox and things like that, that I have read about.

    Why not start this again. Maybe this way we can end the spread of this.

    Also if there is a vaccine created can people be allergic to it?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:50 am |
  17. Goku

    Will I get swine flu from my sink water?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:39 am |
  18. Mary Adler

    Could the deaths from Swine Flu in Mexico be due to ignorance in blowing off the initial signs of fever in children and younger adults as perspiration complaints due to the hot weather? Could average Mexicans be ignorant about the importance of cooling the human body in hot weather when it is also running a fever? If a child were to say, "I feel hot", what is the likelyhood that an adult would brush it off in the summer as being hot weather-related, especially if the child or young adult was perspiring? Could problems relating to dehydration be compounding the problems that the Mexican people are having in dealing with Swine Flu? It is easier to stay cooler with a fever in New York, Ohio, and other places within our nation this time of year than it is Mexico.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:39 am |
  19. Kelsea

    If we have antibotics that do help with the Swine Flu why are we not giving them out to everyone as a percation? Why when people are coming or going in or out of mexico are we not giving everyone the antibiotics? I know that border patrol, customs, is looking for "signs" that a person has the Swine Flu but what if someone is not showing signs and does have it? If the government can send antibiotics to California and other states why not give it to everyone and try to stop this before we DO have deaths in the US. Also what are we doing to help Mexico to prevent this from happening again?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:36 am |
  20. Sue

    I've heard that a recent study indicated that increased intake of Vitamin D seems to lessen flu symptoms. What is Dr. Sanjay Gupta's opinion of this? What has he heard about this study?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  21. victoria

    I have to pick my nephew up in Tijauana tomorrow, he will be boarding a flight in Mexico City, taking all the precautions seriously, does anyone know if any, were any flights canceled due to the flu?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  22. bob clausen

    We are scheduled to go to cancun may 21st as an all pd trip by my wife's business. Should we go?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:17 am |
  23. Lori

    if someone has ashtma does if affect the person more?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  24. Lori

    if we had the swine flu long time ago then why didn't we have the vacination for now.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  25. Sara Jones


    I'll be in bed by the time you read this. But here is my question(s).
    There are 3500 plus flu's report each year that sadly kill people, And this swine flu has killed below 250, and the reporting is out of control, why is that? If it is the so called swine flu, does everyone die from it? And why are they telling people if you're sick, stay inside for 7 days? Why would you stay inside, and not go to the hosp? If it can't be cured, why would one go to the hosp, and if youre' sick, why should we stay inside, and not go to the hosp? And if you get it, how long after does someone die? And didn't CNN report that our president went to mexico and was greeted by a man, that died a day later from the swine flu, when in fact he had a heart attack?


    April 29, 2009 at 1:07 am |
  26. aarti

    i believe this swine flu is just to scare every one!

    April 29, 2009 at 12:57 am |
  27. Tammy in arizona

    Could this be a case of animals (swine) being crammed into filth before the are slaughtered?
    Seems like swine flu, mad cow, bird flu is caused by our huge demand meat.
    Is this payback from the animals?

    April 29, 2009 at 12:36 am |
  28. F Greene

    Timing may be everything. The flu season is winding down. There may be little spread and mostly minor illness in the US and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere until November. The flu was present in Mexico much earlier than the US, during the prime season for infection, and for that reason it's possible transmission and severity of illness has been greater there, at least until the next Northern Hemisphere flu season begins, say in November.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:19 am |
  29. Gary Terhune

    It should be obvious that you can't get the swine flu from eating pork. The virus is killed by cooking. But what about handling raw pork? Can the virus be tansmitted via blood and tissue, or is it only transmitted via oral or nasal fluids?

    April 29, 2009 at 12:18 am |
  30. jen

    Would you travel to San Antoinio Texas for a national oncology conference on the river walk tomorrow? This is not a must but would like to go.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:15 am |
  31. T. Wang

    The real value of face mask seems to be in keeping people who are already ill from spreading the virus, rather than protecting healthy people. Therefore if we all act responsibly, wearing face mask in public, we can stop the spread of swine flu.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:12 am |
  32. george alvarez

    ok are we done talking about the swine flu ? all the news stations > including cnn are hyping the virus, ok why dont we take this energy and worry about the people that are really at risk ? why do we not help the homeless !!! people with weak immune systems are at risk !!! ratings and money do not over rule human life , espescially those of women , children, and the needy !!!!!

    April 29, 2009 at 12:11 am |
  33. Lori-Nebraska

    At the risk of sounding morbid, I've been doing some research the last couple of days and these pandemic virusus are facinating. My question is regarding the fact that the young healthy people who are dying with the swine flu are being killed by their own immune system, whereas with our "normal" flu viruses, it's the "complications" due to age or illness that results in death.
    Why aren't immuno-suppresant drugs used to prevent healthy people dying from their immune system over-reaction? I know I'm over simplifying, but I was curious why it wouldn't work.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  34. edna

    i work for a major hardware chain where i interact with thousands of people daily, how concerned should i be? i always provide excellient customer service .. via shaking hands, etc..how far back should i stand from my customer...i don't want to offend my clients..i live near the boarder..should i be concerned about people coming back across who are wearing masks??? thanks

    April 29, 2009 at 12:04 am |
  35. Anne Eckert

    Anderson as a lowley R,N. it makes me wonder why these lofty appointed officials havn't figured out this swine flu "epidemic" yet. We have stock piles of Tamiflu so we are told, then why are we not giving out the stuff in a pez dispenser in the cluster areas? 75mg per day for 6 weeks is supposed to prevent the problem. Sounds like a no brainer to me.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:03 am |
  36. Becky from Michigan

    @ Hugh:

    Genetically, it is very very unlikely that this virus can be spread from migratory birds or insects. When the influenza mutated through recombination of strains (swine,human,and avain) the change in the virus which allowed human to human spread of infection was probably drastic enough to prevent infection of birds at this point. The reason humans can aquire swine strains of flu more readily than avain strains is due to the fact that genetically we are very closely related to swine.

    Influenza virus is spread through droplet particle inhalation, not through blood borne routes like malaria.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  37. Michael

    I just thought that I would write with a little info about just how well our government is protecting us from Swine Flu. I live in the Rio Grand Valley. Our governments refusal to close the border with Mexico is putting the children here in grave risk. Every day parents from Mexico bring their children across from Mexico to go to the public schools here in the valley. This evening on our local news a reporter stopped a van full of such children coming to the U.S. to go to school. Several of the children in this van where coughing and even stated that they where not feeling well. If for no other reason this should be cause for our government to close our border crossings.
    Futhermore: All of our local phyarmacys and our local Doctors are low if not completly out of both medications used for treating Swine flu and are unable to ubtain more. The reason for this is Doctors from Mexico are comeing accross and trying to buy as much of the medicans as they can as there is no stocks left in Mexico. Also they are sending their patients to the U.S. to fill their prescrbtions for these drugs.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  38. Elainekay

    Was this started by the Mexican's drug lords to take the heat off of them?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  39. Christopher Robinson


    April 28, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  40. R. Cruz

    If a Mexican farm produce is initially contaminated with swine flu virus at its point of origin and gets exported to other countries like USA and Canada, is it possible for the swine virus to survive and infect people when the produce is consumed?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  41. Nina Horner

    At this rate how fast is the swine flu spreading in the U.S?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  42. Adam


    A previous question asked how long the swine virus can live. The answer was a few seconds to 48 hours. We have seen footage of custodians in the schools where students have been infected sanitizing the schools shortly after the infections were discovered. Maybe I am missing something, but if we know that the virus cannot live for more than 48 hours, why are we not closing the facilities where infections have been found for 72 hours from everyone, including the cleaning crews? This would ensure the virus is gone. At that point the buildings could be safely sanitized. It seems like sanitizing infected facilities so quickly increases the chance of those who do the disinfecting to become infected, and thereby increasing the chance of spreading the disease once cleaners leave the building.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  43. Terik Ororke

    Are those who received the swine flu vaccine about 1976 protected against this strain of swine flu?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:51 pm |
  44. Don

    Isn't there a cure to eliminate swine flu? If not, is there anything to reduce it?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
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