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It was discovered in 2007 that the theory of Pigs and Ponds as mixing bowls for new strains of influenza was correct. Granted, the virus discovery in pigs in Missouri is an H2N2, not the H1N1 type we see blossoming today. The principle of Mixing Bowls is the point, however.  Here is the December 2007 article from CIDRAP:

New swine flu virus supports 'mixing vessel' theory

Robert Roos * News Editor

Dec 20, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – "A new influenza virus discovered in Missouri pigs has a combination of genes from avian and swine flu viruses, supporting the theory that pigs can serve as a mixing vessel for flu viruses and a potential source for a human pandemic strain, according to a report published yesterday.

Researchers found that the virus, an H2N3 subtype, caused illness in experimentally infected mice and was transmissible in swine and ferrets, suggesting it has adapted to mammals, according to the report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In addition, genetic analysis showed the virus has a mutation linked with an increased ability to infect mammals.

The discovery marks the first identification of an H2 virus in swine, according to the authors of the report. The flu pandemic of 1957-58 was caused by an H2 virus, namely H2N2. That virus was replaced by an H3N2 strain in the pandemic of 1968-69, and H2 viruses have not circulated in humans since then. Hence, people younger than 40 have little immunity to H2 viruses, scientists say."

Well, well,  well. And, the scientist, Wenjon Ma from Iowa State University, had specific recommendations about what we should do. Let's see..

"Our results provide further evidence for the potential of swine to promote reassortment between different influenza viruses, and the genetic and biologic properties of the H2N3 viruses described suggest that it would be prudent to establish vigilant surveillance in pigs and in workers who have occupational exposure," states the PNAS report.

And, as if by magic, the scientists also isolated a "vector," or a method of transference between the birds and the pigs. At this point, this variety only lacked a human component. We seem to have picked that missing piece up lately in Mexico or the Southwestern US as human contact between pigs, the ducks and the workers came into close contact for extended periods.

"Phylogenetic analysis showed that the virus's hemagglutinin (HA) gene most closely matched the genes of H2 viruses isolated from North American mallard ducks, while the neuraminidase (NA) gene was closely related to that of an H4N3 virus found in blue-winged teal. Five of the other six genes were derived from swine flu viruses currently circulating in the United States, the scientists determined.

The source of the virus is unknown, but the likeliest possibility is pond water, which was used to clean barns and water the animals on both farms, according to the report. That transmission pathway has been described before."

So, in other words, we had been warned, by real people dealing in real science, doing real work, having no credit extended to them, and being ignored by the Political Establishment. The scientists did their jobs. Now, who were the Congressmen from Iowa, or anywhere, who are supposed to be making these critically important recommendations public? Where were the leaders in 2006 and 2007?

I am angry about this as nothing I have seen since the Exxon Valdisease Incident. This is the sort of thing Democracy is designed to deal with. If we cannot even listen to our own scientists, who we pay to do critical and valuable work for the public good, then, what are we doing? How low has this Republic fallen? I think this is the answer.

Its time to become rational and to start learning again. If we don't, we fail. It is that simple.

The full article:

Originally posted to OregonOak on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 10:16 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You could very well be right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Annalize5, Pris from LA

    I had a violent flu that year as did everyone in my area (near pig farms btw).  However, Dr.s and Hospitals (even research ones) don't tests people's blood, which makes it hard to track these things.  Unless you come in extremely sick if you have the flu, they don't test, same w/stomach illnesses.  I bet we aren't even catching half of the ecoli outbreaks.

    I had something very odd in high-school and it took  2 weeks before I convinced a dr. to give me a blood test.  Turns out it was something VERY odd and rare, they sent it off the the CDC and I was quarantined, but a lot of ppl at my school and town already had the same symptoms by then.  Again, bc the local docs and hospital didn't want to do blood test (or send them out) Americans never knew about it.

    GOP = Godless opposition party We Hassle to make America a Vassal (state)

    by Shhs on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 11:17:00 PM PDT

    •  Healthcare system (0+ / 0-)

      Our healthcare system puts short-term financial considerations above actual treatment of patients or epidemiological tracking. In most places such tests would not be justifiable to the accountants. Most hospitals in the US run on a deficit because of inadequate funds. In every hospital the ER in particular loses huge amounts of money. Here in NYC they are closing hospitals to save money, which of course increases ER wait times in the remaining hospitals and puts more of a strain on the whole system (gee, thanks Bloomberg!). As long as healthcare is underfunded and dominated by accountants (no offense to accountants, but they aren't doctors and scientists) this will happen. I know several excellent physicians who grew to hate being doctors because of the way our health system was making effective treatment and tracking of illnesses so impossible.

    •  Dr. Ma is right, not me. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Lets give credit where credit is due, to Iowa State and the USDA.

      Government works, and the better the science, the better the government.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:27:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh dear god I missed the IA part (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Annalize5, Pris from LA

    Now I know THIS broke out last year.  They gave everyone one flu shot for A, but the flu that broke out wasn't A, they were telling ppl that.  I felt like I was going to die... not just me either.  OMG.  There are a lot of migrant workers in IA I wonder if they took it back to Mexico, and bc Mexico doesn't have a great public health system, it went unnoticed!

    GOP = Godless opposition party We Hassle to make America a Vassal (state)

    by Shhs on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 11:19:32 PM PDT

    •  The mutation in this direction (0+ / 0-)

      in my very limited knowledge, is unlikely, but I guess possible. I would defer to the geneticists on this issue.

      It is more than likely, I think, and this is my personal extrapolation only,  that the COFA Factory Farms are likely culprits in generating MANY new varieties of influenza. Viral evolution has been accelerated by a factor of.. a lot.. and we knew it would happen, but the smell of money was more credible than the smell of pig manure in ponds in 2006 and 2007.  

      We need to ask Dr. Ma and the USDA at Iowa State University to weigh in on this.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:31:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This from the World Health Org: (0+ / 0-)

    Your diary is right on target...and terrifying.  

    WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic. Information on this page tracks the evolving situation and provides access to both technical guidelines and information useful for the general public.

    This site posts updates daily or more often as the situation warrants. I've put a shortcut to it on my desktop.

    •  Less Terrifying at the moment.. (0+ / 0-)

      We will know soon what the infection rate and mortality rate in LaGloria and surrounding villages has been, and I suspect that it will be low based on anecdotal reports so far.

      However, the concern with Swine Pond Mixing Bowls remains. What if H1N1 can combine with Avian Flu from Asia via Migratory Birds in Alaska? This is now a possibility, and Asian Avian Flu has a MUCH higher mortality rate. This is the real concern..H1N1 is probably  not so deadly as to be catastrophic, but the pathway to catastrophe has been shown to be open, and we need to slam the door shut tomorrow, by the end of the day.

      This is an emergency not because of what has happened, but what we do today to clean up open swine sewage ponds and regulate these COFAs out of existence.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:36:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I find this particularly disturbing... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man

    When you open the page you will need to click on the link shown will take you to a PDF file.

    Influenza Cases by a New Subtype, Americas (27/4/09 1 pm)

    The press has reported information on suspected cases in several countries of the Region; however, this information has not been confirmed.

    Regarding laboratory results, in the two first confirmed cases in the United States, influenza virus A/California/04/2009 and A/California/05/2009 were isolated. They show a pattern of genetic reassortment of a swine influenza virus from the Americas with a swine influenza virus from Eurasia.

    This particular genetic combination had not been detected in the past. Both proved to be resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, but sensitive to neuraminidase inhibitors, oseltamivir, and zanamivir. Both have been cultured in MDCK cells and inoculated in ferrets for the production of antisera. The complete genome of the influenza virus A/California/04/2009 has been published and is available on the GISAID database ( The viruses of other confirmed cases in the United States correspond to the same new strain.

    In summary:

    There is evidence of circulation of a strain previously undetected in pigs and humans.

    Studies are being conducted in order to determine the extent of the human-to-human transmission.

  •  Thanks for the science. I commented in the two (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    factory farm diaries yesterday that the science was still out on swine viral mixing. This update is important. Thanks!

    Now to dismantle the pig farms around the world. We may satisfy ourselves that factory farms must be dismantled, but in reality pandemic flu virus strains have regularly found a way without CAFOs and industrial farms. SE Asia's peasant farms where pigs and poultry freely associate and defecate have been previously hypothesized to be a cause in pandemics past.

    Just because something's old doesn't make it good. Just because something's new doesn't make it better.

    by the fan man on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 03:20:56 AM PDT

    •  The Science is not out.. it is IN. (0+ / 0-)

      While livestock and people have always been vectors for new influenza strains, it can be said that the rate of viral evolution has been accelerated to a point which the mammal immune systems we have may not be able to handle successive onslaughts. Other mammals and birds may be stressed to their limits, or past their limits of adaptability. That is what we must remediate against today.

      Close the CAFO's, clean out the ponds, slam the door shut on these New and Improved Infuenza Factories.

      This has been known and predicted for years. The time to act is now before we create more superflus.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:45:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Factory farms should be closed for many (0+ / 0-)

        reasons but I don't think this one is of the reasons. I remain open to more evidence. We were "overdue" for a flu reassortment, when and where is always the issue. Do factory farms increase the odds? Probably, but third world poultry farms have been a home for avian flu, no industrial capacity necessary. Public transportation and office buildings increase transmissibity and I doubt we'll get rid of them. We just make them as safe as is economically expedient. If it turns out the Mexican hog farm is proven to be the source, we'll see a flurry of recommendations and legislation to make them safer, but I unfortunately doubt we'll see the end of them.

        I am of the firm belief that we should not produce food, particularly meat and animal products in the same manner as cars or computers or refrigerators. I make my food choices accordingly. I don't know why anyone needs more of a rationale than that.

        Just because something's old doesn't make it good. Just because something's new doesn't make it better.

        by the fan man on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 06:02:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Economically expedient.." (0+ / 0-)

          Should not be the limiting or deciding factor in deadly pathogens. We can and should pay more for small farm products, and we can and should stop being so cautious in remediating public health threats when the only reason for not doing so is to enrich corporations and serve the interests of someone else's Empire.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 06:08:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We could make cars far more safer, we could (0+ / 0-)

            change the speed limit to 35 mph and save thousands of lives annually. Everything has a cost, that's what I meant. Some things are calculated more in the public interest, some things less.

            Thank you again for the info!

            Just because something's old doesn't make it good. Just because something's new doesn't make it better.

            by the fan man on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 06:15:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  No one could have predicted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'd have to read the PNAS article to see what I think of it scientficially, but PNAS is a respected journal.

    I think one thing to keep in mind is that this kind of thing WILL happen as long as we have livestock. The key developments should be advances in health care and sanitation. Any pandemic in the US will be made better  by the fact that as a population we wash our hands more than people used to, that most of us have safe and ample drinking water and a warm place to sleep, and that we have analgesics to keep fever down. All of these are likely to make most pandemics of flu relatively minor in the US. Our terrbile health care system, however, could make the situation worse particularly in the case of secondary infections. There isn't a lot doctors can do about flu itself, but there is a lot they can do against secondary bacterial infections which can themselves be dangerous.

    The concern to me is not so much how this will play out in most of the US as long as the above advantages are in place, but what will happen in places, in or out of the US, where clean water, warm places to sleep, etc. are not readily available. Those places are in a similar situation as Europe 1918.

    A warning like the PNAS article is almost bound to be ignored because the agriculture lobby won't be too keen on doing anything about it and, in our society, scientists have almost no influence on the public but the agriculture industry does. Think about how long scientists have been warning about global warming to no avail (decades!), and global warming is probably a far more dire threat to more people than a flu pandemic.

    An even more apt comparison is the use of antibiotics in animal feed. This leads to a direct threat to human health in anti-biotic resistant bacteria. This is well known and scientists warn about it constantly. And yet it has been a constant and fierce battle to get this practice reduced. And it hasn't yet been stopped. Best scientists have been able to do is get a handful of agricultural firms to cut back on this practice and a handful of fast food companies (e.g. Chipotle) to "favor" meat not using un-needed antibiotics. This has been a longer battle and scientists go largely unheeded even as the cases of deaths from antibiotic resistant bacteria increases.

    Science and scientists have been denigrated in the US since at least the 1970's. I can point fingers at the right wing ideologues who don't even believe in evolution (a theory that has been solidly supported by scientific evidence for more than a century), but the left has its own anti-science bias as well. In this environment, I can't imagine a warning like the PNAS article having an impact on our society. The warnings about the New Orleans levees SHOULD have been heeded. The warnings of 9/11 SHOULD have been heeded. The fact that these weren't seems astonishingly stupid to me. The fact that the PNAS warning about swine flu was ignored doesn't surprise me at all, though you are right that it SHOULD have been heeded.

    •  Good points. (0+ / 0-)

      I think one thing to keep in mind is that this kind of thing WILL happen as long as we have livestock. The key developments should be advances in health care and sanitation.

      May I add advances in animal husbandry.

      Just because something's old doesn't make it good. Just because something's new doesn't make it better.

      by the fan man on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 04:57:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The speed, or Rate of New Creation (0+ / 0-)

        of pathogenic viral genetics is the issue. We are adapted to a certain rate of viral creation. No one knows how much the mammalian immune system can handle if we create a new one of these every two years, or every six months, or every three months.  

        Speed kills, when it comes to evolution.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:51:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Okay (0+ / 0-)

        Honestly I am not sure how much that helps, but it could well reflect my own ignorance rather than anything else. I am not a virologist nor am I very familiar with animal husbandry except in the most general sense. My wife started out studying animal husbandry but rapidly changed to other fields and wound up in climatology. I stuck mainly to cellular and molecular biology but have wandered into developmental genetics almost by accident. So I am not an expert.

    •  There are many culprits here, but... (0+ / 0-)

      the next steps are critical. We MUST close down these strongly suspected vectors for Flu Virus creation. The evidence is now proof, as much as deduction can provide in a complex biological situation.

      Or maybe we will wait for more "examples" of this occurance, and prove again that we really act Inductively in the real world and not Deductively. Either way, its all science, and the sooner we act the safer we will be.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:48:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tips for Iowa State and the USDA (0+ / 0-)

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 06:00:03 AM PDT

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