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April 30th, 2009
09:31 AM ET

Scientists see this flu strain as relatively mild

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Karen Kaplan and Alan Zarembo
The Los Angeles Times

As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza - at least in its current form - isn't shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.

In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.

"Let's not lose track of the fact that the normal seasonal influenza is a huge public health problem that kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone and hundreds of thousands around the world," said Dr. Christopher Olsen, a molecular virologist who studies swine flu at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison.

His remarks Wednesday came the same day Texas authorities announced that a nearly 2-year-old boy with the virus had died in a Houston hospital Monday.

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Filed under: Public Health
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Mary

    "Normal flu" is usually fatal only in seniors, small children, and those with immunity disorders, etc... From what I understand, this strain of flu has proved as fatal to normal, healthy, and young adults as it has to those that are usually most effected. If this is the case, this is a strain that is MUCH more serious than normal flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  2. Lauren C. of Southlake, Texas

    Anderson Cooper-

    Great Post !! It surely puts things into perspective.

    April 30, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  3. Juanita, Elko NV

    Relatively mild! Ok, so why raise the level of urgency? I know we have all been told what to do to keep ourselves healthy; is this H1N1 virus only passed from human to human? We are told to make sure we wash our hands regularly and often; does this mean if I touch something that someone has touched that has the virus I will catch it? What about people that work handling food and prepare food, such as in resturants and packaged prepared food? Can it be transferred in that manner. I have only seen people wearing masks, not gloves.

    April 30, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  4. Melissa

    I think people are completely overreacting to this flu and the media is feeding it in an effort to get ratings. This flu is no more dangerous than any other regular flu. People need to calm down.

    April 30, 2009 at 10:51 am |