The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the H1N1 swine flu virus is now the most common influenza virus among humans. Unlike seasonal flu, however, swine flu activity levels not only remain high in the winter but also the summer months, with people younger than 65 being particularly vulnerable.
Although global swine flu cases are too numerous to count with any accuracy, there has been a disturbing trend in increased cases in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. New fatalities recorded in these regions and elsewhere pushed the global toll past the last count of 6,394. They include 14 deaths in just two days reported in Canada, as well as recent losses in Turkey, Finland, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Jordan.
Of particular concern is Ukraine, where 95 people have died within a two week period, and at least 470,000 are reported to be suffering from respiratory illness. The WHO has stated that this outbreak is likely due to a swine flu virus subtype that mutated into a more virulent form, saying that other parts of the northern hemisphere this winter could experience something similar. The agency has sent a team of experts to Ukraine to assess the situation and provide medical humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, nations such as Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, and Slovenia have pledged to send disinfectants, vaccines and other medical supplies. The WHO has also been prompted to call for monitoring of farm workers and animals after more swine flu cases were detected in pig herds in Hong Kong, China, Formosa (Taiwan) and Indiana, USA.
The agency stated, “As human infections become increasingly widespread, transmission of the virus from humans to swine is likely to occur with greater frequency… the potential exists for novel influenza viruses to be generated in animals other than swine.” Indeed, swine flu has also now been detected in turkeys in Chile and animal companions, including ferrets and a cat in the United States.
We send our prayers to all people afflicted and distressed by this unpredictable pandemic. Our prayers for the growing realization that the way through this and all suffering from such animal-related viral developments is the wholesome and humane meat-free society.
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