May 1st, 2009
04:29 PM ET

Earliest swine flu cases from California?

David Luhnow, Jose De Cordoba and Gautam Naik
The Wall Street Journal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/05/01/swine.flu.cases/art.couple.jpg]

The voice on the conference call last week was Frank Plummer, a Canadian scientist who had just spent 24 hours analyzing virus samples from 51 seriously ill people in Mexico.

The news: Seventeen people carried a completely new type of flu virus, one which had its origin in pigs. Flu from swine, which can be fatal, has rarely made the jump to humans - much less appeared in so many people at once. Within minutes, Mexico's health minister grabbed a red-telephone hotline to President Felipe Calderón. "Mr. President, I need to see you urgently. It's a matter of national security."

A picture is now emerging of how U.S. and Mexican officials, with a key assist from a Canadian government lab, first realized they faced a new type of disease and began racing to isolate its earliest origins. Until recently, Mexico was widely assumed to be ground zero. Now, however, some California doctors are questioning that.


Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. kathy

    In the late '70s, early '80s the swine flu vaccine was administered and some people contracted Gullian Barre Syndrom as a result of receiving the vaccine. What are the chances of this happening again?

    May 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm |