Friday , April 16 2021

What happened to the recent swine flu pandemic?

Mexico, Spring 2009

In the town of La Gloria with a population of several thousand people, west of Mexico City, a five-year-old begins to snore and has a fever. His mother gives him flu medicine from the pharmacy and puts wet washcloths on his forehead. After a week, the fever has passed and he seems to be feeling fine again.

– We didn’t isolate him. We all slept in the same bed, he greeted his brother with a kiss. Her mother told the Los Angeles Times that we all lived together and nobody got sick.

The boy is one of hundreds of La Gloria residents who fell ill with flu symptoms in March and early April. Authorities take samples from patients, and samples are retested when swine flu is seen elsewhere in the country, but it turns out that only the child is carrying the virus. The rest got the “regular” flu, CNN reports.

The Guardian reported that the five-year-old was recognized as “zero sick”, the first person found to have swine flu, and authorities later erected a bronze statue in his hometown.

New virus cases, Along with symptoms such as high fever, muscle aches, fatigue and dry cough, it was soon discovered in California and later other countries in the United States.

Fear spreads.

Flights were canceled, passengers were quarantined, countries stopped importing pork, Egypt began slaughtering all its pigs, and pharmaceutical companies began developing a vaccine. At the same time, officials are trying to find the origin of the virus. Suspicions are directed, among other things, to a large pig farm near La Gloria.

Two things scare researchers. The infection gained momentum during the “wrong” season and affected an unusual number of young people. Flu season usually begins in December and lasts until the end of spring – as well as the worst-affected seniors.

When a virus changes pattern, it’s an indication that something is spinning. Björn Olsen, a chief physician and professor of infectious diseases at Uppsala University, says that if you start seeing an increasing amount of flu viruses in teens, you should definitely pull the pandemic cord.

Professor Björn Olsen is also active at the University Hospital in Uppsala.

Professor Björn Olsen is also active at the University Hospital in Uppsala.

Photo: Fredrik Funck

In the June notes The World Health Organization WHO says the world is actually fighting a pandemic. The first wave in the summer of 2009 is followed by a second wave in early autumn. At least a fifth of the world’s population is infected in the first year. According to a study by WHO and Imperial College London, children and adolescents are at significantly higher risk of becoming infected compared to older people over the age of 65. Young children, pregnant women, and people with underlying diseases are most at risk of developing serious illness.

Swedish healthcare is the first to use larger scale ecmo machines, a type of artificial lung that delivers oxygen to the body in patients with lung weight. Vaccination in Sweden will begin in October and in six months, more than five million Swedes will receive the Pandemrix vaccine.

However, the epidemic had already calmed down by the first autumn.

Björn Olsen says it’s actually too late when the vaccine arrives.

On 10 August 2010, WHO announced that the world was in a post-pandemic phase. When the World Health Organization summarizes the death toll from April 2009 to August 2010, the figure ends at 18,500 laboratory-confirmed cases, but the figure may be 15 times higher in the first twelve months, according to a study published in The Lancet. the virus has spread.

In the rearview mirror It was stated that the pandemic was not as severe as the world feared. Nowadays, you almost only hear about swine flu in connection with those who suffer from narcolepsy after being vaccinated with Pandemrix. The Medicinal Products Agency estimates that there are around 150-200 people in Sweden.

What really happened to the virus on everyone’s lips?

The answer is that it’s still around the world. The virus has become one of four seasonal effects that regularly attack with varying forces.

– That’s exactly the case with the flu virus. Björn Olsen says that after the pandemic they moved to another stage and wandered among the population to a much lower degree.

Seasonal flu usually takes turns dominating. The swine flu virus A (H1N1) pdm09 has dominated three seasons since the end of the pandemic, but the only truly intense period was 2015-2016. Today, vaccines against the virus (not Pandemrix) are included in the seasonal flu vaccine, which more than half of people 65 years of age and older receive in Sweden.

A crying woman with a mouth guard with H1N1 painted on a wall in Beijing in 2009.

A crying woman with a mouth guard with H1N1 painted on a wall in Beijing in 2009.

Photo: AP

Twelve years after the epidemic, the virus has not definitively mutated, but is approximately contagious and causes an illness as severe as it was originally. The reason why relatively few people are still infected and sick today is due to the fact that humanity has acquired quite a lot of good immunity. At the beginning of a pandemic – when the virus is completely new – the population’s immunity is weaker, but as more and more people become infected and vaccinated, herd immunity increases.

When the body becomes immune to a virus, it still has antibody-producing cells. Björn Olsen says that as soon as they are exposed to a similar virus, they will become active and start producing antibodies again.

Then where does it come from swine flu?

According to Björn Olsen, all viruses originate from wild waterfowl, then the viruses can mutate and infect other animals. The swine flu virus probably had been circulating among pig herds in Mexico for some time before it hit humans. It is a hybrid virus that acquires several different types of parts.

Two important genes could be traced back to viruses in pigs, another gene was the new discharge from viruses in humans and a fourth from wild waterfowl.

Although the five-year-old boy at La Gloria was chosen as “zero sick,” it is very difficult to know which person was infected first, he says.

– It is believed that he started at La Gloria, but it is incredibly difficult to tie him to this person It is also known that those who work in the nearby pig farm are infected and bring the virus to the family.

Pigs on a farm in Veracruz, Mexico.

Pigs on a farm in Veracruz, Mexico.

Photo: Alexandre Meneghini / AP

Almost all strains of influenza A virus circulating today – including A (H1N1) pdm09 – are somehow descendants of the Spanish flu that raged 1918-1919. This is one reason why the Asian outbreaks (1957) and the Hong Kong epidemic (1968) did not get any worse.

– You can tell that the Spanish disease is the chassis of the car. Throughout history, Björn Olsen says they have remained attached to new things like new lamps and a new steering wheel.

This is why older people manage swine flu better than younger people. Many of them had already encountered the relevant viruses and had some degree of immunity.

So there was no dramatic epidemic. If it were a completely unknown virus, it could really go bad.

Public Health Institution noted The number of seniors affected by the swine flu virus has increased slightly over the years. This is because no variant of the A (H1N1) virus circulated between 1957 and 1977, so some who are now reaching their age do not have good protection.

It is often said that you had the best protection against the flu that you first got as a child. These people did not get the “first kiss” from H1N1. Mia Brytting, head of the Swedish Public Health Department, says the virus has changed over the years, which also played a role.

What will happen to swine flu in the future? Can it turn into something worse or disappear completely? Björn Olsen says these are very difficult questions to answer.

One type of succession has been observed among influenza viruses. When brand new strains of viruses arrive, they can be cleared along with the old ones and take over the “market”, so the old ones disappear. Nobody knows why this happened.

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