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In various parts of the country, most recently Iowa, cases of the Swine Flu have been reported raising concerns that infection may be on the rise. The most recent occurrences, added to cases reported in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Maine, have triggered a nationwide alert. Isolated cases have been identified in these areas over the last two years, and though being transmitted much slower than the H1N1 strain from 2009, it is assumed that the risk of detrimental illness is no less real. It has become clear that these are no longer isolated events and the threat of a nationwide epidemic may be imminent.
Symptoms of the most recently identified strain manifest themselves similarly to seasonal influenza including cough, loss of appetite, lethargy, and runny nose. These are consistent with the H1N1 virus, however, the flu vaccine will not necessarily be successful in preventing the spread of the H3N2 copycat. Unlike the swine flu, this infection reportedly is not from proximity to pigs or pork products, but from human-to-human transmission but carries a gene from H1N1.
Luckily, the Iowa cases were identified during standard virologic surveillance by the state public health laboratory and the affected individuals are being treated. Research is being performed and there has already been a plausible option developed for the manufacture of a vaccine but no target date has been released nor testing of its efficacy. Until such time as a vaccine and treatment plan can be developed, US citizens are reminded to take precautions.
Precautionary measures for the reduction in virus transmission include antibacterial cleansers, protective clothing, hygiene, and minimizing exposure to infected individuals. Antibacterial cleansers and wipes can help to keep surfaces and exposed skin healthy and virus free. Protective clothing such as gloves, masks, eyewear, and the like will help to minimize exposure to airborne or contact-driven transmission, and, as always, minimize exposure to affected persons and maintain proper daily hygiene.