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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. Laure

    Even though it's already out there, it is important to find out where it came from so that this situation doesn't happen anymore in the future. Of course this could have happened anywhere, at a university , near research labs, vacation resort...who knows but we need to find out. So, lets say if there is no solid evidence that the virus did not come from the near by farm(s), then where else could it have come from? Or If it did come from the farm(s), then how did the farm(s) become infected?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:47 pm |
  2. pamela dunton

    I am going to Atlantic City to gamble. Do I have to worry about touching all the slot machines and what should I do to take precautions besides washing my hands. Pam

    April 28, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  3. Elaine

    How risky is it to swim in a public (YMCA) pool?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:45 pm |
  4. brenda allen

    Let it snow in April that will kill the Viruses, so just pray and keep your hands clean at all time.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  5. OctoMomFan

    I have the cure for the Swine flu; follow these steps.

    1)Hold your breath until we have a new topic to scare the nation.
    2)Hide in your room to avoid human contact.
    3)Watch news coverage all day to increase your hysteria (and your blood pressure).
    4)Assume the fetal position.
    5)Wait for the next instruction.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  6. Mark A. Davis

    Obama's 100 Days (and 100 – 3am nights)
    As a primary and mental health advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, I find it telling that in the first 100 days it took 99 for Congress to confirm Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services Secretary. They finally did when pig flu flew...

    April 28, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  7. Chantal Meek

    If someone had the swine flu in 1976, is there a way to have these people tested for antibodies? Would that help to develop a vaccine or cure?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  8. Chicago Joe

    Obvious as with any new strain of infectious disease, this case the flu, there is a high possibility of mass infection due to lack natural antibodies to it. Why is this flu strain more dangerous than others? Has there been a large enough sample of people to determine if this flu has a higher mortality rate than other common / preexisting flu strains?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  9. Linda

    This is scarry, but we are getting a lot of useful information from all sorts of people...thats for that

    April 28, 2009 at 11:40 pm |
  10. jen

    Would you travel to San Antoinio Texas for a national oncology conference on the river walk tomorrow?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:39 pm |
  11. John

    I am a frequent domestic business traveler in the US; should I take additional steps while at the airport and during flights by wearing an N95 rated mask?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:39 pm |
  12. Gabe

    When the last pandemic of H1S1 in 1918 it cause most deaths people in the prime of their lives not the very young or aged, is this what we should expect?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  13. iyke Daniel

    Hi, Anderson, the flu virus is not a new virus, i think the need for a vaccine is extremely urgent. The centre for disease control need to start thinking in that direction. A enough of politics in capital hill.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  14. Bruce CT

    Cate

    It seems o me, the US should be taking several major steps immediately:

    One-Close down the border

    Two-Subject all travelers arriving from Mexico to temperature readings
    as they arrive in the US.

    Three-Alternatively, bar all but returning US citizens from flying into the US.

    Four-Have flight attendants on all incoming flights report on all passengers with coughs, who vomit and to the extreme, those who use the toilet, during the flight.

    Five: The attendant on all international flights, for the next fews weeks,
    should be reporting persons with excessive coughs, those who vomit and at least those making FREQUENT trips to the bathroom.

    Having flown millions of miles over my career, to include the last two epidemics, I know the US needs to tighten up our borders.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  15. Carla

    Why has Gov. Schwarzenegger declared California a state of emergency if there have been no deaths here?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  16. Jonathan Craine

    Please read up on the real utility of face masks as a device to prevent acquisition of swine flu. Viruses are far too small to be blocked by masks of the type being used in Mexico. The only effective barrier is a respirator of the type used in P3 facilities. The continued reporting of people wearing face masks does a disservice to the general population by giving them a false sense of security and lessens the chance that people will do the things that can really minimize viral disease transmission. (I have sent a similar message to Dr. Gupta who is generally extremely reliable with his information). The only value of these face masks is that are making the manufacturers of such devices rich. They simply don't work against viruses.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:34 pm |
  17. emily

    It's one way to stop the drug lords. Now people stateside may not want to do business with them in fear that they will get the virus.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  18. Nina Horner

    hi im really concerned about the swine flu but my question is how fast is it spreading? I live in southern nj and would like to know

    April 28, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  19. joanne hacker

    Should there be mandate for all schools to disinfect surfaces everyday or evening as a preventative?

    If the virus only lives for 24-48 hours ... is the produce from mexico safe or can the virus actually live long enough to be dangerous after being shipped?

    What is the CDC advising individuals and families to do other than washing hands often? Should we all stay out of crowds for a while, such as shopping or sports events?

    How do we know someone hasn't got the virus that traveled to mexico but didn't get sick enough to report to a doctor or hospital and is now spreading the virus?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  20. dena Goldberg

    As a nurse i completed a nasal swab on a 9 month old infant. He tested positive influenza A. i did not wear a mask and I am 8 month pregnant. What should I do?

    Thanks,

    Dena
    Union, NJ

    April 28, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  21. Gabe

    Will prophylactic use of Tamiflu and Relenza be effective actions against this swine flue?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  22. horacio

    Is there any concern that thousands of tourists from Mexico come every year to celebrate 5 de Mayo in Las Vegas? If they come as in previous years, and a small percentage of them are carrying the virus, it could spread from Vegas to all points in the US within days. Are health officials looking into this? Are Nevada health officials looking into this?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  23. Jackie

    Has anyone explained how this particular virus has four separate viruses, human, swine, avian and one other I can't recall.

    Is this a normal mutation???

    Just wondering.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  24. Kimberly

    Hi Anderson!

    Last week I had a couple days of intense headaches (I nevever get headaches) and now I also have allergy type symptoms with a slight fever (99.6). I travel weekly via airplane and my job is in healthcare so I am in a different hosptial in a different state each week...should I be worried or am I totally stressing myself out for nothing?!!. I do not want to be a hypochondriac!

    IBTW – live in KS and today I flew to TX! Yikes!!

    Advice from Sanjay?

    Thanks!!

    Warm regards,

    Kimberly

    April 28, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  25. Norman berkowitz

    I have heard that the flu shot given this year may help alittle against this doesanyone know that for a fact

    April 28, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  26. bbrown

    Two groups of posters here: The ones who expect someone (big brother?) to do something and those who understand that this is a fact of life just like a tornado or an earthquake.

    Group #1: This is not a drill. Nobody knows how dangerous it is, especially since it has the potential to change rapidly. It is already too widely spread for an effective quarantine. There are no magic ways to avoid it, surgical masks are mostly a joke, vaccines are months away.

    Who will get this bug and how severely is essentially a lottery with unknown odds. It may turn out to be just another flu, or it may be very deadly. Waiting for someone to tell you all the answers is a great way to be unprepared.

    If you were suddenly too sick to go shopping for a week, do you have enough basic supplies on hand for yourself, your family, and your pets? Things you could eat with a really iffy stomach? Basic meds like cough syrup and aspirin? Sports drinks for staying hydrated? A fever thermometer? Today would be a great time to take inventory.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  27. Judith Wedemeier

    Question for Dr. Gupta:
    I have been assuming for years that Hydrogen Peroxide is as good a neutralizer of bacteria, viruses, etc., as is alcohol. I use it after washing my hands, every day. Is it actually worth using?

    I heard last year that washing our hands with regular soap was only as effective as an alcohol-based hand cleaner IF we washed our hands for 20 seconds. In other words, the length of time spent in washing is significant and I wonder, if this is true, if it needs to be mentioned in your information.

    Thank you!

    April 28, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  28. Gabe

    Is the swine flue virus a retro virus?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  29. Ru

    how many infected ppl are in mexico? and how many in the US?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  30. Ana O.

    Question for Dr. Gupta and Del Rio

    I read that pigs', monkeys' and chicken cells are among other dangerous and poisonous "ingredients" contained in the vaccines shots given to our children and recommended by doctors ... Is it possible that the swine flu made its way to the human population through this via???

    April 28, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  31. Saurabh Sharma

    Hello,
    I also had a question. I was wondering if there is a definate cure for the flu because today i have heard of many cases recovering of the flu and would like to know how that is possible.
    Thank you

    April 28, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  32. Saurabh Sharma

    Hello,
    I am a freshman in my school in Antioch,CA and I saw a lot of kids in my class coughing and sneezing. And now my sister, who goes to the same school started coughing and sneezing. Is there a possibility that the Flu has spread to our county too. (Contra Costa County)

    April 28, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  33. Susan Kasper

    I am wondering why the local goverment officials do not step up right now, regardless of whether the flu is in their state or not. I live in Hawaii and I teach Kindergarten. I have had to be very pro active myself in order to educate my children about hygeine and how to prevent it. The school district has chosen to ignore it so far. I am sending updates to my parents,(many of them from Mexico.) I had to send the info home,furnish tissues, soap, and hand sanitizer. We need to be preparing and very proactive. You have no idea how much sneezing, wiping, coughing,etc goes on everyday in my Kindergarten class.!

    April 28, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  34. Gabe

    Will HIV medicines like retanscriptase inhibitors work against this virus?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  35. Eileen

    The WHO website states it is not advising any restrictions on travel to Mexico. The CDC website advises us to "avoid non essential travel" to Mexico. Leaving on a cruise Sat. Cruise line says it is going to stop in Mexico. How can two agencies have different views. Thanks.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  36. Loriann

    What about the U.S. blood and plasma banks? I am a nurse who works in one and have not yet heard of prescreeining donors for the swine flu. We are mandated by the FDA. Any information about this?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  37. F Watters

    My concern is that I am to leave for vacation May 10 to Porta Vallarta Mexico. The Travel Agency won't refund my money or let me travel elswehere without it costing me even more money. This is not something that anyone planned. What should I do?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  38. Federico Arellano

    Hello Anderson, I was briefly this weekend in Mexico City and I saw people going about their business. My only concern was my flight being cancelled on Saturday, everything was fine and on the plane expected to be received by sanitation authorities in DFW and as always we in the USA don't know whats going on outside and that sadly includes our authorities.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  39. Lee Fifield

    I had the Hong Kong Flu when I lived in Miami, many years ago. Many older folks died! I was in my 20's and was very ill for 3 months, this seems like it is as long as a common cold, and not nearly as severe as the Hong Kong Flu, or are we late in getting the information for a long period of time? How long does this run its course?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  40. Tammy

    Why do some people get the swine flu and die and others do not? What are the chances of surviving it if you do get the swine flu?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  41. Malissa

    Have the researchers figured out why this flu is so deadly in Mexico, but fairly mild everywhere else?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  42. BoPeep

    My 8 year old daughter has diabetes and we live in Illinois. Seeing that Indiana has suspect cases, should I be taking drastic precautions to keep my daughter safe? If so...what?

    April 28, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  43. LeslieC

    Maria Mar-I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    Just my opinion, maybe I have seen too many Sci-Fi movies but I feel we need to SHUT IT DOWN, THE MEXICAN BORDERS, NOW. Let's save lives, stop discussing. The Food & Drug Administration need to go to the pig farm in Virginia, and shut it down also, since it is in association with the pig farm in Mexico. The reason the other countries stop receiving meats from us is they know we have a large population of illegal mexicans coming into our country handling our meat supply, they could be carriers of swine flu. Per studies they stated the next wave of threat to humans asfaras a terrorist act will be our food supply. We know the government do not keep us fully informed. They do not believe 'we can handle the truth', all the while our love ones will become infected and maybe die. Let's discuss shutting down our borders.

    Lastly, Dr. Sanjay Gupta should not put his crew and/or co-workers in danger, he should not be allowed to come back into the US without a holding station for a couple of weeks. Concerned Citizen.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  44. Sharpe

    I am a Pharmacist in suburban Atlanta. What worries me is that I am continuously exsposed to thousands of sick people who travel freely to and from Mexico unrestricted, undetected and unauthorized . Atlanta and it's suburbs have been transformed into a not so American city. Don't be surprised if the death toll includes, to a great degree, the communities of Atlanta. The authorities seem to only be focused on travelers, the real threat from viral dissemination will not be from vacationers returning home.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  45. Hilario, San Francisco CA

    I was in Durango, Mexico last week and came back on Sunday, Apr. 26th thru the New Mexico border. If I had contracted the virus, when would I know if I am carrying the virus? I have no symtoms at the moment.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  46. Carl Magnus

    New Information re: H1N1
    Robert Hart of Veratect, Kirkland , WA ( a company which manages epidemiological trends worldwide ) sent out an alert on 4-6, to both CDC and WHO concerning the cluster of disease present in La Gloria, Mexico, which they had been following since February, in which1800 people became ill.
    This is one week prior to when both of the CA children had her their samples sent in for testing. These are the first 2 U.S. cases and the start of a possible pandemic.
    Veratect became more alarmed and sent emails 4-16/17 and called the CDC directly on 4-20, after receiving no reaction from them.
    On 4-24, the news was finally made public by CDC. The total elapsed time from when Veratect gave their initial warning to the time when CDC made their announcement was 20 days.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  47. Bob Schmidt

    I'm currently on vacation in Miami from Illinois and I can tell you that every store I've checked here in Miami Beach has sold out of surgical masks to protect people on the airplanes going home. However my wife and I always fly with portable ionizers called the "Buddy" we got from Ecoquest. I hope that will be enough protection for us on the way home since we can't get surgical masks too.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  48. Sherie

    They said it would take months to create a vaccine for the swine flu. This concerns me.

    April 28, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  49. victor schwien

    Whoa Nellie;

    It's the vaccine that will kill you in six to nine months. Watch out if you are between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five; fighting age!

    The perfect war is waged when the enemy doesn't know who it's fighting.

    Stay calm, Do NOT get vaccinated; no matter what anyone says!

    Thank you for you attention.

    V

    April 28, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  50. victor paulk

    it's a gov't conspiricy to stop illegal immigration

    April 28, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
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