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Swine Flu: A Primer

Citizens of European Union nations have been advised to avoid unnecessary travel to the United States and Mexico because of an outbreak of swine...


Citizens of European Union nations have been advised to avoid unnecessary travel to the United States and Mexico because of an outbreak of swine flu. As of this morning, there were some 1,600 cases reported in Mexico. The ailment even seems to be infecting the stock market. Here's a look at where known cases have occurred.But what does this mean to you? Well, that all depends. New Scientist has assembled a decent list frequently asked swine flu questions. It's enlightening, if a bit disconcerting. A few excerpts:Does this virus mean I shouldn't eat pork?No. This virus is named swine flu because one of its surface proteins is most similar to viruses that usually infect pigs. But we've never seen this particular virus in pigs before. It is spreading in people; that's the problem.What should I do to prepare for a pandemic?We don't know yet if this will be one-but quiet preparation can't hurt. Cover coughs and sneezes and wash your hands a lot. Don't run down your ability to fight infection-eat well and be sensible. Some scientists recommend going on statins as there is some evidence they reduce death rates from flu in people who tend to die from it in normal years.Given that Canada, Mexico, and the United States are the nations most immediately at risk, a NAFTA / Capitalist Swine Flu pun is begging to be made, especially if the crisis spreads to Europe in the manner of our recent financial troubles. But that might be in bad taste. Because, really, with a serious drug war (and now, apparently, a major earthquake) did Mexico's tourism board need another seemingly insurmountable obstacle?Photo by Flickr user sarihuella.
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