Just the mention of the H1N1 flu tends to send shivers up the spineÂ—which is why one might consider getting a shot before making a trip to the county fair this year. While so far nearly three hundred people across the globe, mainly children and the elderly, have been identified as carriers of the swine flu virus triggered by H1N1 variants (H3N3 and H1N2), three such cases were contracted as close to home as the Minnesota State Fair. H3N3 in particular has been widely circulating in U.S. swine herds as of late.
What's more, Korean scientists stumbled upon a deadly mutation of the swine flu while injecting the virus into ferrets in a recent lab study. Two previously unheard of strands developed from the injection, killing all three of the animals within ten days. While the scientists researched this occurrence extensively and found that it has yet to be replicated in nature, the findings are especially important due to known similarities between human and ferret flu reactions. Should the strands somehow pop up again in human victims, they could have the same deadly effect. And, since swine and bird flues, in general, are known to pick up harmful genes on a whim, the recent outbreak could prove to be a real threat to humanity.
Protecting against the H1N1 flu and its nasty relatives in the first place is key to maintaining good health. Flu shots are widely available in local pharmacies or at physicians' offices, particularly during the fallÂ—or, "flu"Â—season. Fortunately, many fairs are still in full swing this time of year. So, immunize properly and pet the pigs with caution.