Monthly Dose of Disaster: Swine Flu 2020

By: Sarah Brill  |  July 2, 2020

By Sarah Brill, Science & Technology Editor

With every passing month, a new issue — whether that be with society, the world politically, or pandemic-related — seems to arise. This month, it’s a new strain of swine flu that has surfaced in China leaving researchers to wonder if this virus contains ‘pandemic potential.’

In 2009, the H1N1 swine flu outbreak caused a pandemic that lasted for 19 months, recording half the amount of cases compared to COVID-19 in the United States. Jesse Yeung from CNN stated that “from 2011 to 2018, Chinese researchers based at several institutions, including Shandong Agricultural University and the Chinese National Influenza Center collected more than 30,000 nasal swab samples from pigs in slaughterhouses and veterinary teaching hospitals across 10 Chinese provinces. From these samples, researchers identified 179 swine influenza viruses — but not all of them posed a concern.” 

On June 30, 2020, it had become known to researchers that the virus had been silently spreading to workers on the pig farms in China. Mike Ives from The New York Times stated that “Li-Min Huang, director of the Division of ​Pediatric Infectious Disease​s at National Taiwan University Hospital, said that a crucial next step would be finding out whether any of the infected workers at the pig farms had contracted the virus from humans, as well as whether any had spread the virus to their families.” Huang further stated that it is crucially important that researchers study this particular virus, as it has dangerous potential. 

As stated in The New York Times, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that this virus does not pose an “immediate threat” to the United States, but rather the virus is “something we need to keep our eye on just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu.” 

There is hope that this virus can be contained in time so that it does not have the potential to reach the level of a pandemic. With many countries still maintaining a “lock-down” status, it is questionable whether or not this virus will enter the United States, but we must remain watchful and continue taking necessary precautions to ensure that this virus does not enter this country. 

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