WebXtra: Dr. Ed answers Swine Flu questions

By Molly Reuter - bio | email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Since the Swine Flu epidemic began last week, we've been flooded with your questions. Everything from how easy it is to catch, to whether, or not it's safe to eat pork. KLTV 7 Med Team Doctor Ed Dominguez is an infectious disease specialist and speaks around the world about different diseases. He answers some of your questions below.

What is Swine Flu?

Swine flu is called that because the type of influenza that has been detected H1, N1 Type A influenza appears to have originated in the swine population as opposed to having the components that are more characteristic of the human virus. That's how it is different from the influenza that we just finished seeing back in February and March of this year.

Is it easy to catch?

We don't know as much about the transmissibility about this particular form of influenza yet, but just based on the information from Mexico, which hasn't all been verified yet, and certainly based on the information from the ongoing outbreak in New York city and the one school up there, yes this does seem to be fairly easily transmitted person to person.

Is it treatable?

Yes it is. It appears that the virus is susceptible to these two drugs (Tamiflu/Relenza), and that has been shown within the laboratory. I haven't heard so far necessarily that people are responding when you give them the medication, but I think it is important to recognize that at least in the laboratory there is evidence that this should be an effective treatment.

Why is it deadly in Mexico, but not the United States so far?

I think that in general in could be a couple of issues. It could be an economic barrier to the medications. It could be an economic barrier to prompt and efficient medical care that would recognize the virus. It may be inaccurate reporting, so we don't have a real clear view for why the mortality rate has been so high in Mexico.

We have a vacation planned this summer to Mexico.  Should I cancel?

I wouldn't cancel anything after May 31st until we begin to find out of this curb in Mexico is dropping down, whether they are starting to see fewer cases in the middle of May, but we if we are still seeing large number of cases going into May, or June particularly in travel destinations, whether it be Mexico, or South America, or anywhere else, I'd be very careful about going.

These are just some of the questions Dr. Ed answers.  To learn more click the video link titled "Dr. Ed has answers to questions about the Swine Flu."

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