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Stories and News No. 27: Swine flu, first case in Italy?

The Story:

I don’t want to worry anyone.
It’s not my intention to create highly inappropriate psychosis.
I am not an irresponsible as a researcher in the Abruzzo region, which has lead to unnecessarily panic...
It’s not my fault if in Mexico over a hundred people died for the swine flu!
Yes, I agree, in India from 2001 to 2007 12 million new cases of leprosy came out.
Only in Sub Saharan Africa there are 28 million people affected by HIV.
Each year 2 million people die of tuberculosis worldwide.
I don’t want talk about the SARS flu, which nobody longer speaks of, but yes, let’s talk about: the World Health Organization warns that in the coming years there will be an increase in the spread of the virus.
Why no one says anything?
And what happened to the mad cow? Who may assure us that we are in danger no more?
About me, for my safety, since 2001 I no longer eat beef.
Since 2005 I stop eating Chinese food and generally not Italian cooking.
I don’t need to go into the street eating kebab...
Honestly, I do not leave home since sixteen years.
Do I need? I have a plasma TV and the digital decoder. I have everything I necessitate to stay safe.
I'm ready, I have always been ready.
Yet, this morning I woke up coughing and sneezing, with nausea and... and yes, last night I ate the soppressata.
My wife says that my symptoms are due to my seasonal allergies to pollen and asthma.
She also said that the nausea was provoked by the wine that I drunk before collapsing in bed.
Women… they want always take it easy, they are hopelessly optimistic.
But I know, this time I am really sick.
Quiet, I don’t go out of the house.
I never go out.
I will die in my bed and none will know it.
By the way, the TV never shows the truth.
That’s because they love us, so they don’t want to frighten us...

The News:

From the CNN, 27 April 2009: Answers to swine flu questions.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the swine flu virus has spread from person to person in Mexico and the United States, triggering global concerns as governments scramble to find ways to prevent further outbreak.

Q. What is swine flu?
A. Swine influenza, or flu, is a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs. It is caused by a type-A influenza virus. Outbreaks in pigs occur year-round.
The most common version is H1N1. The current strain is a new variation of an H1N1 virus, which is a mix of human and animal versions.

Q. Does swine flu affect humans?
A. While the virus causes regular outbreaks in pigs, people usually are not struck by swine flu. However, there have been instances of the virus spreading to people -- and then from one person to another. The only difference is, says the CDC, transmission in the past did not spread beyond three people -- as it has done this time.

Q. What is behind the spread of the virus this time?
A. Researchers do not know yet know. People usually get swine flu from infected pigs. For example, farmers handling infected pigs can contract the virus. However, some human cases have occurred without contact with pigs or places they inhabited.

Q. What are the symptoms of swine flu?
A. The symptoms are similar to the common flu. They include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Q. How does the virus spread?
A. The virus spreads the same way the seasonal flu does. When an infected person coughs or sneezes around another person, the latter is put at risk. People can become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. An infected person can pass the virus to another before any symptoms even develop. Video Watch advice on avoiding the swine flu »

Q. Why is this spread troubling?
A. Scientists are concerned whenever a new virus is able to jump from an animal to a person -- and then spread from person to person. When the flu spreads person to person, it can continue to mutate, making it harder to treat or fight off.
The World Health Organization has said the current outbreak has "pandemic potential," and has urged governments to take precautions to prevent its spread. If the virus continues to mutate, drug makers won't be able to come up with vaccines fast enough.

Q. Can swine flu be fatal?
A. Just like the regular flu, swine flu worsens pre-existing medical conditions in people. So people with already compromised immune systems can die after contracting it.

Q. But doesn't the common flu kill more people?
A. Yes, common seasonal flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people every year. But what worries officials is that a new strain of the flu virus can spread fast because people do not have natural immunity and vaccines can take months to develop.

Q. Have there been swine flu outbreaks in the past?
A. From 2005 to January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the United States, without deaths occurring, the CDC said. In September 1988, a healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died a week later. And in 1976, a swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey, caused more than 200 illnesses and one death.

Q. What does the World Health Organization mean when it says swine flu has "pandemic potential"?
A. If the virus spreads over a wide geographic area and affects a large segment of the population, it is upgraded from an "epidemic" to a "pandemic."

Q. How deadly have pandemics been in the past?
A. In 1968, a "Hong Kong" flu pandemic killed about 1 million people worldwide. And in 1918, a "Spanish" flu pandemic killed as many as 100 million people.

Q. How can one keep from getting swine flu?
A. There are no vaccines available. But several everyday steps can help prevent the spread of germs: Washing hands frequently; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and avoiding touching surfaces that might be contaminated.

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