Some of you will remember that I was teaching at RU when the “bird flu” just began to reach public attention. I followed it and still do as a potential public health issue.
I mentioned early on that the pig to human issue would probably be an important ingredient in a potential pandemic as pigs are genetically and antigenically more like humans than birds, and if bird flu genetic material and human genetic material combined with swine viral elements, that would make for a new ball game. And here we are.
But at present, the actual mortality threat is not a great concern for me, personally, and I don’t feel we are at great risk on our flights home today. However….
My greatest concern about this latest episode of multi-genetic flu (bird, human and pig) is that, with the wide spread into the human population, there will now be abundant human incubators in which recombination and mutation of this novel and previously unseen viral entity can take place, leading possibly to increased virulence and resistance to antivirals.
Such a change could cause this relatively serious “swine flu” to go from bruising the global economy to worse than that.