The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that swine flu is back, with 12 cases reported by Friday. The most recent case was a child infected with the H3N2 virus in West Virginia, according to the national U.S. health agency.
So far cases have been reported in five states -- Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Pennyslvania and West Virginia. Eleven of those affected were children, and one was an adult. The man reported that he had direct contact with a pig in the course of his work, but that the animal had appeared "perfectly healthy."
Half of all the reported cases, in fact, had no exposure whatsoever to animals. Three were admitted to hospital. All have since made full recoveries from the virus.
Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the influenza epidemiology team in the CDC influenza unit, said it is "not yet clear that these viruses have acquired the ability to circulate in humans in a sustained way." No other country has reported any cases of the virus, he said.
Israel's Health Ministry has recommended that every person in the Jewish State older than age six months be innoculated against the flu. Influenza can be quite dangerous, which is why Israeli health professionals are so adamant about their patients and healthy families being innoculated.
Last winter there was a spate of hospitalizations due to complications suffered by patients who had contracted H1N1 strain of swine flu -- and several of them died.
This year's strains to be covered by the vaccine include protection against this particular strain of the swine flu -- they are Types A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and Type B.
According to Dr. Yuval Rabinovich, medical director of the Leumit health maintenance organization (HMO) clinic in the northern Negev resort town of Arad, some cases of the virus had already reached Israel. "We don't usually test for individual strains of a virus, though, unless the case is very severe or cannot be treated by standard means," he told Arutz Sheva in a telephone interview Sunday morning.
Rabinovich also confirmed a statement by CDC physicians that national statistics probably did not reflect the reality in the field. "Usually, influenza travels in the world from east to west, and reaches us here in Israel before arriving in the United States. What happened two years ago in the pandemic was an exception to that rule," he said. "This year's strain of the virus is a more mild form, and because of that it may not be reported as often, so the statistics in the U.S. may only be the tip of the iceberg," Rabinovich said.
He added that as long as one takes the standard precautions -- getting a flu shot, going to the doctor if symptoms appear, following medical instructions and resting until the illness has passed -- this form of the virus is usually not dangerous.