The swine flu virus that has frightened the world is beginning to look a little less ominous. New York City officials reported Friday that the swine flu still has not spread beyond a few schools. In Mexico, very few relatives of flu victims seem to have caught the virus.
One flu expert says there’s no reason to believe the new virus is a more serious strain than seasonal flu. And a federal health official said the new flu virus doesn’t appear to have genes that made the 1918 pandemic flu strain so deadly.
It’s too soon to draw any definitive conclusions about what this variation of the H1N1 virus will do. Experts say the only wise course is to prepare for the worst. But in a world that’s been rattled by the specter of a global pandemic, glimmers of hope are welcome.
President Obama noted Friday that it’s not clear that the swine flu outbreak will turn out to be any worse than ordinary flu.
“It may turn out that H1N1 runs its course like ordinary flus, in which case we will have prepared and we won’t need all these preparations,” Obama said.
But “we’re taking it seriously,” he said. Even if the flu turns out mild now, it could come back in a deadlier form during the normal flu season, he said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the illness so far had proven to be “a relatively minor annoyance.”
City health officials say they have found few signs that the local outbreak of swine flu is spreading beyond a few pockets or getting more dangerous. The city has 50 cases, the most of any city in the United States.
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