Swine flu has been transmitted from a farm worker to a pig.
Now that the swine flu virus has passed from a farmworker to pigs, could it jump back to people? The question is important, because crossing species again could make it more deadly.
The never-before-seen virus was created when genes from pig, bird and human viruses mixed together inside a pig. Experts fear the virus that has gone from humans back into pigs in at least one case could mutate further before crossing back into humans again. But no one can predict what will happen.
“Could it gain virulence? Yes,” Juan Lubroth, an animal health expert at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, said Sunday. “It could also become milder. It could go in both directions.”
In other words, the answer is maybe and that’s definite.
Until it’s proved or disproved simple rules of hygiene – washing hands, covering mouth when coughing or sneezing – should apply with people and animals – as they should all the time, regardless of whether or not there’s a flu bug about.
Meanwhile, Mexican officials say that the outbreak of swine flu has passed its peak.