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Swine Flu

Posted by: | April 27, 2009 | 10 Comments |

What Is Swine Flu
Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by a type A influenza viruses. Flu  outbreaks  in  pigs  are common, especially during winter months. (CDC Brochure).  People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections have recently been happening.  Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people  (CDC).

What are the Symptoms of Swine Flu

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.


U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
(As of April 30, 2009, 10:30 AM ET)
# of laboratory confirmed cases
Arizona 1  
California 14  
Indiana 1  
Kansas 2  
Massachusetts 2  
Michigan 1  
Nevada 1  
New York 50  
Ohio 1  
South Carolina
TOTAL COUNTS 109 cases 1 death
International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
See: World Health OrganizationExternal Web Site Policy.

What medications are available to treat swine flu infections in humans?

There are four different antiviral drugs that are licensed for use in the US for the treatment of influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir.  While most swine influenza viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent swine influenza viruses isolated from humans are resistant to  amantadine and rimantadine. At this time, CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (relenza) for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.


Is there a vaccine for swine flu?
Vaccines are available to be given to pigs to prevent swine influenza. There is no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu. The seasonal influenza vaccine will likely help provide partial protection against swine H3N2, but not swine H1N1 viruses.


What’s In A Name (Source)

Influenza A viruses are one of five types of flu viruses and cause the most severe disease in humans, although influenza B regularly causes outbreaks.

The A, B and C designations originally referred to type of antibody response from the body, but are now known also to be related to genetic differences in the capsid proteins of the different viruses. Studies of the genetic sequences of these viruses indicate that at some time they all had a common ancestor.

After A, B or C comes the sub-type, which is named for the broad classes of the hemagglutinin (HA) or neuraminidase (NA) surface proteins sticking through the viral envelope. There are 16 HA sub-types (designated H1 – H16) and 9 NA sub-types (designated N1 – N9).

Hemagglutinin and neuraminidase were the first aspects of the flu viruses to be identified, so early naming convention nomenclature was built around the two genes that code for them, since then more viral genes for making proteins have been identified.  Because of this, the H and N nomenclature of naming has become a very incomplete description of the virus.

The H1N1 description of swine flu only describes two of the eight genes in the virus. It’s possible to have an H1N1 strain with six other genes from an avian flu virus, or an H1N1 with six other genes from a human-adapted or pig-adapted flu virus. Those six other genes could also be identical to the other six genes in a virus with a completely different naming system like H6N2. (Source)

Other Questions

Can I still eat pork?
Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs. The swine influenza virus is inactivated by cooking temperatures of 160oF/70oC corresponding to the general guidance for the preparation of pork and other meat.

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A Newer, Faster Flu Vaccine

Posted by: | February 15, 2009 | 4 Comments |

by Lexi P

Currently in the United States many people were given the flu shot either by a doctor or even now a CVS pharmacy. This article shows how scientists have now come up with a faster flu vaccine that turns infinitesimal amounts of DNA into this new effective vaccine. It is done by a spraying technique, which sprays viral genes directly through the skin. However it is not approved yet! If this new vaccine is approved for humans to use, the new technique could help save many lives in case of a flu outbreak.

“John Beadle, a researcher from the Infectious Disease and Oncology department at PowderMed, Ltd. in London, says, ‘The traditional way of making vaccines has a number of significant drawbacks.’” They are saying that the biggest drawback to vaccines are the amount of time it takes to make them, which could take to long to save people from the flu or other diseases.

Some questions that I have are based on the new technique. How could we know if the spray will take a positive effect on everyone, if they are rushing to compete the procedure? Also, will the new technique of vaccines still make the patient sick with the virus like the one we use now?

“The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year as a result of the flu, and more than 30,000 die from it. Globally, the flu kills close to half a million people every year.”

Source: Science Daily.

under: Human Biology, Immune, Medicine, Student Post

by April G

A team of University of Louisville doctors are conducting the world’s first FDA approved clinical trial using cardiac stem cells.  Patients who are already undergoing bypass surgery will recruited.  The procedure will use stem cells taken from the patient’s own cardiac tissue.

After a few months of recovery, the stem cells will be put into the scar tissue.  For a year the patient’s heart function and blood flow will be monitored and the heart size and scar tissue size will be measured.  The hope and goal is that the stem cells will help the heart tissue grow, reduce the scar tissue and improve heart function.

Source: Medical News Today

1) Once this procedure is completed and measured for a year, has it worked?  Has it helped and restored heart function?
2) If it has, what can further be done with cardiac stem cells in this same manner to help heart problems?

under: Cardiovascular, Human Biology, Medicine, Student Post

Researchers at the University of South Florida have developed a wheelchair-mounted robotic arm that captures the user’s brain waves and converts them into robotic movements.

The device uses an electrode-covered head cap to capture brainwave (p-wave) responses and convert them into action, such as “typing” or manipulating a robotic finger.  Useful for paraplegics, amputees, or individuals with other disabilities, this “smart wheelchair” allows users to pilot the chair without any physical movement whatsoever.

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Face Transplants

Posted by: | November 18, 2008 | 4 Comments |

(courtesy of Mr. Wolsko)

 Isabelle Dinoire

French Isabelle Dinoire, 41, a few months after her surgery (l) and a year later (r)

The concept of organ transplantation is one that, at this point in medical science, is very well known.  Look at the back of any driver’s license.  Most of the time, when we think of organ transplantation, we think of internal organs:  heart, lung, liver, and kidney being taken from one person and given to another.   Yet, the transplantation of faces, as strange as this may sound, has moved from science fiction to science fact.  In 2005, the first facial transplant (a partial one) was performed on Isabel Dinoire of France.  She was mauled by her dog as she slept; her lips and entire the bottom of her face below her nose was torn away.  Part of a suicide victim’s face was used to restore Isabal’s ability to eat and speak normally.

At the end of March 2008, the first full facial transplant was performed in France…ironically, by a team led by a doctor who said he would not perform full face transplants.

Should this surgery be continued? Tell us what you think? Is this an area medicine should be exploring?a



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under: Human Biology, Immune, Integumentary, Medicine

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