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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. Dale

    I see more people sick and dying from heart disease everyday than the flu.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  2. Diepiriye Kuku

    Aren't we super breading germs with al the anti-bacterial products in soaps and even sanitizing gel? Erasing germs from our environments compromises our ability to fight even simple germs, while meds force viruses to mutate and become way stronger.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  3. Donna Manning

    Just found out this evening our school district in Texas is closing for a week and a half because of the swine flu. As far as I know, only 1 can has been reported of a teacher at a night class on one of the high school campuses. Is this overreacting? Will it really help? If they don't close the malls and movie theaters, etc., it seems kind of pointless.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  4. Cathy

    Question for Dr. Gupta,

    I just returned to the States from Mexico (Oaxaca). How cautious should I be in terms of getting sick and infecting others? Should I isolate myself?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  5. EmmaLou

    I've read many articles about this swineflu and I read about the 1976 swine flu that was also called the Great Plague. When the government sent out vaccines for it, many people died because of those vaccines. Is there a new vaccine that can help cure the flu this time?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  6. Mark Lawrence

    Good coverage on the transference of germs in a public place(subway handrails and seats)....let's not forget the most common risk through the handling of money.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  7. Common Sense

    Is it possible that all these flu scares (Avian, SARS, Swine, etc, etc.) are being propagated by drug companies so as to convince us that flu vaccines are necessary for everyone?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  8. Mary

    I am in one of two CT communities who have closed schools tomorrow for cleaning. Even if they clean tomorrow, with the incubation period, can't the disease spread Friday or Saturday or next Monday? Shouldn't they be closing down for five days or so?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  9. Mary from Michigan

    If you're sick...STAY HOME. The only way to stop the spreading of the flu is to contain YOURSELF if you are sick. It is here in the US and will get worse. It is transmitted from person to person. People will most likely continue to go to work if they are sick...and infect numerous people throughout the day x10x10x10x10...

    The government should reimburse a person for doing the RESPONSIBLE thing by staying home from work if they are sick. The money in an emergency fund should go towards encouraging those infected to contain themselves and limit their exposure to others. Paying someone to stay home from work would be an effective incentive and would contain the spread of the virus.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  10. Roberta

    Its my understanding the Spanish Flu pandemic came in waves. Thus we may see a resurgence of this virus in the USA in the fall when our normal flu season hits. By that time the virus may have mutated so that the antivirals are not effective. For now I guess we wait and watch.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  11. Steve - Mesa, AZ

    Certainly an issue we need to be concerned with. I had the swine flu shot back in 76 and hope that it helps with the current flu. Although a couple of days ago we were told that we should not be overly concerned it seems that has changed. Makes me wonder how fast the government would act to protect us against a biological attack.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  12. Claude

    What's the real number of deaths confirmed by the swien flu in Mexico... Minutes ago according to the Mexican Health Secretary, the number is 159... Who is checking if the numbers provided by Mexican authorities if they are correct or not? Earlier today I read that there were only 7!

    April 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  13. AD

    What are the actual fatalities in Mexico? Reports from people in the country itself seem to differ from what is being reported by the authorities.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  14. Nick Schiavone

    When I was in the US Army in 1977, I was stationed in Germany. In January or February of that year the Army told me that their was a shot I was required to get. We were chosen by the last 2 digits of our social security numbers. After we were sick, and we all were, we were told that it was the Swine flu. I was also told that they wanted to give it to our dependents, including my wife who was pregnant at the time. I refused to allow my wife to receive the shot even though they tried to make it a direct order. I have never been so sick in my life, we were even put on quarters till we recovered. I had a temp of 102 for 5 days. They have had 32 years to come up with a vaccine for the swine flu, so why the problem or surprise now?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Hi, I am from the U.S., but I am living and working in the resort city of Mazatlan, Mexico. I work for a very popular resort hotel, and I am upset that all the news about the swine flu is about Mexico in general! Where I live, we haven't had any swine flu cases, yet, but all of the tourists think that there is swine flu everywhere in Mexico, because of what the media is saying! Unfortunately, we are having many tourists cancel their vacations to Mazatlan, because they are afraid of catching swine flu. When in fact, they can just as easily catch it where they live! I wish that the media would please specify that almost all of the cases are around Mexico City and the surrounding states, but not in the northern part of Mexico, where Mazatlan is! We want the tourists to know that you are generally safe in Mazatlan. The only thing they have to worry about is drinking too much Tequila! Thanks for letting me voice my opinion.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  16. Marie DeFoor

    Can we get the swine flu again once we have had it and is it milder if we can get it again.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  17. Bill

    The Spanish Flu pandemic killed many in the 20-45 age range, while the more conventional flu bugs are fatal to the very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. What other similiarities are there in the early stages of this flu outbreak to the Spanish outbreak? How long will it take to develop, test and provide a vaccine, particularly for the countries just entering their flu season? Thanks

    April 28, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  18. Alfonso

    I'm really concerned about this mortal disease,I have no doubt that the government`s response was too slow.
    But what is worst, the jalisco governor is definitively a dumb man, seeing all this cases all over the country, and states around us he kept saying that Jalisco was clear, how could it be being us the 2nd most important city (Guadalajara), after spring holidays when the city was empty due to people travelling every where.
    Finally, he decided not to suspend or close schools, so he sent our kids to0 be infected, and it had to be the federal government who cancelled classes (Mr. Gonzalez Marquez the governor) even said that he didn`t agree the federal government but he would obey them.
    As you can imagine we are more frightened of our governor decisions than being attacked by this illness.

    April 28, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  19. Daniel, Chapel Hill, NC

    Reducing the transmission of the swine flu virus is of paramount concern. Would it make more sense to wear latex gloves to prevent transmission instead of face masks? It seems like gloves would serve as a reminder to wash hands, and help individuals to avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth, etc. How effective would this be?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  20. Fay Hurtado

    I would like you to invite any reputable natural medicine doctor to share his/her views about the swine flu, The doctors that have appeared on your shows seem more like spokespersons for the manufacturers of Tamiflu and Relenza. The public has the right to know if there is anything natural like colloidal silver that offers any protection against this flu. According to several studies, it is effective against avian flu and some other antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. If CNN doesn't do this, who will?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  21. Andy

    If the swine flu combines with the avian flu what will be the chance that the resulting varient will be more deadly than it is currently?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  22. James Burnett - Dayton, Ohio

    My question is for the CNN consultant doctors.

    I was given the swine flu vaccination in late 1976, which trigered Gilliam Barret Syndrome and was almost killed by the vaccine itself. My question is when they do come out with a vaccine for this new Swine Flu should I not even think about taking it, or run fast in the other direction? I don't even take the regular flu shots because of this fear of them. I also fear for my children taking them because they share my genes.

    Thank you.
    James E. Burnett

    April 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  23. tsf

    I hate the flu

    April 28, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  24. Barry

    is it possible that a lab made this virus and put it into Mexico pig farms to attack the drug lords and mob influence in Mexico to eradicate this without the use of military and border security?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  25. mark

    Are teenagers more likely to die than the eldery and the real young?

    April 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  26. gavin

    i wonder if dr. gupta asked the mexican authorities if the pig farm in any way contaminated the water supply where the little boy was found

    April 28, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  27. May

    I am planning a trip to Disneyland next week with my two young kids. Although I realize that more die from the "common" flu, with the media attention regarding the swine flu, I think it's understandable that I am worried. Do you think it is safe to travel to California, in particular Anaheim and San Diego? (I am even more worried with the news regarding the two deaths in the California area).

    April 28, 2009 at 9:41 pm |
  28. katherine

    I am a Canadian and lived in Toronto during the SARS outbreak. Why is it that CNN continually criticized our ability to contain the virus and repeatedly mentioned that travel should be limited? It has taken Toronto several years to recover from this as many tourists and conventions have never returned.

    Now that the swine flu has hit the United States – CNN is covering the outbreak well, although you are not mentioning tourists to stay away from New York City or limit their travel within the US. I don't think you would dare do to your own country what you did to Toronto.

    There was as much chance of catching SARS in Toronto as there is catching the swine flu in New York.

    I hope for your country's sake, still deep in a recession, that you don't do to it what you did to Toronto as it will take years to recover.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  29. Fahim Lodhi

    I am so scared! no i take every precaution before doing anything. the reason i am scared is because several of my friends went to mexico for spring break, and ONE of them was sick with the flu! i don't know whether it was the SWINE FLU or the REGULAR FLU! THIS IS A GREAT TIME OF UNCERTAINTY.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm |
  30. Brad

    What really scares me is Richard Besser saying “I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection." Who is particularly susceptible to a swine flu death? My family and I are very healthy. We wash our hands, often. If we catch this are we doomed?

    April 28, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  31. Treasure Collins

    I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but I really do think that there are probably many more cases of this flu all over the US right now. The only way that we can find out if this is the case is for every person who exhibits flu like symptoms at doctor offices and emergency rooms to be tested for the flu....and we know that is not being done. I've known people who have been very ill recently, but no one was sending samples off to be tested. Just because there have only been 80 reported cases in the US, certainly doesn't mean that this is anykind of realistic number.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  32. Ryan Loy

    Required testing is broken down into categories for (confirmed, suspected, etc), but the simple answers for testing confirmation are:

    -real time RT-PCR (based on genetic detection of the viral strain)
    -viral culture
    -4-fold rise in antibodies against influenza A (H1N1)

    all three tests are straightforward, but do require some time to complete.

    As far as increasing your chances, eating healthy and maintaining good personal hygiene are your best bets. common sense rules here. individuals who apply their common sense and avoid activities such as licking handrails will likely do better than others 🙂

    spread from swine to human and mutation that allows human to human doesnt necessarily mean that the virus can suddenly jump species over and over again. thankfully, viruses dont have a "use windows 2000 compatibility mode" to smoothly jump across "operating systems" aka, species (in most cases).

    identification of patient zero can be of utility. the more we learn about the changes that occurred to infect the individual and the specific host from which it originated the better we can truly understand the methods of spread, rate of mutation in the human population, etc etc

    April 28, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
  33. Lori - IL

    Although people need to be aware of this issue, please also report the other news of the day. All flu viruses are potentially dangerous, by their very nature. Please don't continue to feed people's fear over this one particular virus.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  34. andy

    this swine flu is very serious,my question is why do we not shut down the mexico borders?? it makes more sence to quarantine to one area rather than to risk the world with this virus,now is the time to shut the borders down!!!!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  35. Dean Sparks

    Anderson,

    Do your best tonight not to add to the hype or fear tactics that other networks have used in regard to this outbreak. Give it the time it deserves, but don't be tempted to fall into the "24/7 gotta fill air time" drama that others have used to fill some dead air.

    I'd rather have dead air.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  36. Jack Goodwin

    What can we do to prepare now, for the upcoming changes that will happen to our every day lives if this turns into a pandemic? I am sure if this spreads as fast as it seems it may, lots of businesses that get a lot of traffic, like grocery stores, will be among the first to close.

    There is already one case in my community, in Ohio, and I know for certain that I will not want to go anywhere if this thing gets out of control.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  37. Kendall Peller

    I currently work in the retail business and open up boxes daily at a fast pace, in which I have no time to wash my hands each time.

    Is the U.S. currently accepting imports from mexico?

    if so, could i be at risk?

    April 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm |
  38. E.Winters, Berkeley, CA

    To quote GR:'It's always something' – wash your hands – stay out of crowds – eat your veggies . . . etc. That d*mn plane flying over lower Manhattan scared me more.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:59 pm |
  39. Ry Perry

    Im not so concerned with what they are telling us, but more what they are not. Reality: All of the worlds governments are responding to this. And they are all concerned with wide spread panic. They are dripping us the truth. We may never know the truth of where this originated. We will only know what they tell us.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:59 pm |
  40. pris robichaud

    How about calling this the H1N1 virus like the President and getting away fom the swine flu name?

    April 28, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
  41. lwyrchc

    What can they do to contain it and stop it's transmission? How long will it take?

    April 28, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  42. Maria Mar.-Arizona, Gilbert

    Its does not matter where it originated at this point, its already here.Viruses know no boundaries this would have happened in what ever country it started in. Besides what are we going to do with the possible patient zero??? persecute him "how dare you get sick!" I don't think so.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  43. abc ~ anything but california hugh

    I have a question for Dr. Gupta and Dr. Carlos Del Rio:

    Since health experts have already noted that this strain is part human, part swine and part avian in origin, isn't it HIGHLY unlikely it can be quarantined, as the possibility exists it is being spread by infected migratory birds who live near or among hogs? I have not heard of this senario yet by anyone. Couldn't the virus replicate as well by mosquitos, fleas or ticks who bite inflected birds or hogs living in close proximity to one another, and as vectors spread the virus even further?

    April 28, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  44. GailMaureen Ferraro

    Good Day:
    Has anyone in the media or security considered the possibility that the swine flu could have come from an alternate source (i.e. man released by our enemy) as an act of terror specifically by the Taliban or Terrorist organization wanting to bring down our middle class?

    Funny how this is not targeted towards the young or the old but seems to be hitting our middle class.

    Also ironic is that this happened right as President Obama turned in his report for 100 days in office.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  45. Isabel Siaba

    Is there a food that helps to increase immunity and help in the fight against swine flu?

    When there was an outbreak of Dengue Fever (in Brazil) was advised to eat yams for to fortify the immune system.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:29 pm |
  46. Isabel Siaba

    How to tell if we are with the swine flu or a common flu? Only tests can confirm what type of flu? What are these tests?

    April 28, 2009 at 8:29 pm |
  47. Marv Terhoch

    No denying the ominous chill of this flu.when Besser says we con expect deaths, what an understatement. Has he forgotten that already this year 12,000 have died in the US from various flu strains and that number is projected to reach 36,000 by end of flu season. So please, some context. If we are anticipating deaths, how many?

    April 28, 2009 at 8:20 pm |
  48. Seim Kuruc

    I will begin to get concerned when the death toll in the US reaches close to, or above the seasonal flu average death toll, which is 36,000.

    Right now, it just feels like a lot of media hype, which i feel we really dont need... I think Obama and other officials are doing the right things to prevent this from getting really bad, and i am a bit concerned about it, especially if what they say is true, and this new strain is around to stay, but i still think there is no need for the media sensation this has become...

    April 28, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  49. spiritbutterflygirl

    If it is not the swine flu it will be another flu go on with life

    April 28, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  50. Annie Kate

    How do they identify patient 0 – the very first who had the disease? How can they be sure that they have indeed found that person who had the disease first?

    If we assume that this flu will be pandemic what can people do now that will lessen their chance later that will lessen their chance of getting the flu.

    Thanks.

    April 28, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
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