Because it is a new mutation of known viruses that can be found in three species of biological beings - man, pigs and birds - AND because the new virus seems to have a genetic code that is made from bits of the viruses from each of the three species, it is being taken seriously as a potentially dangerous new strain.
The evidence for this is the very high number of deaths recorded so far (around 9%at the time of writing) and the fact that young people also succumb to this flu, which is highly unusual. For these reasons, scientists and doctors all over the world agree that the risk of a lethal pandemic is very high.
Note that a swine flu epidemic refers to a national emergency and a swine flu pandemic to a world wide emergency.
It's important to note, this swine flu is treatable (and can be survived). It's resistant to two of four antiviral drugs approved for combating the flu: Symmetrel and Flumadine. But two newer antivirals - Tamiflu and Relenza - appear to work.
It becomes even more dangerous when people start taking the anti-viral drugs while not being sick. By the time they really catch that flu virus, the real thing, chances are the treatment will not be very effective anymore. This has probably something to do with the fact that you trained your body to get rid of the anti-viral chemicals.
Currently, labs all over the world are mapping the genome of this new flu virus. But scientists are also warning that this could be only the frontrunner of another "big" one, like the spanish flu, that killed over 100 million people all over the world in 1918 and 1919.
A virus will not be caught by eating pork meat, so there is also no risk of infection from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products. The World Health Organization advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and to seek medical attention if one develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness.
Theo Steward was concerned by the speed at which the swine flu has spread and so he set up a Swine Flu News page, where you can also read up on swine flu prevention tips and subscribe to a free newsletter to keep updated.
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