When an apparently new form of flu was identified in a Mexican outbreak in 2009 it was labelled “Swine Flu.” Newspaper headlines flared and pigs were slaughtered in some countries but the only unfortunate animals that got that particular strain of influenza received it from humans and not the other way round. So the label was wrong. But the name, short and dramatic with implications of malevolence, stuck and remains in common use. Pandemic it certainly became at the time although today the H1N1 strain is considered just to be one of the many strains of the influenza virus affecting communities during flu seasons. Now, however, a true swine flu - albeit a relatively benign form - has emerged in the USA with some 230 case in nine states being confirmed. All the cases are linked to contact with pigs especially at agricultural fairs and have occurred mostly in children. The strain of influenza virus causing this infection is a variant of a strain commonly seen during flu seasons, formally labelled Influenza A H3N2v. None of the infected people have had serious symptoms and there have been no reports outside of the United States.
Clearly this is a new development in the saga of the battle between humans and one of our commonest virus enemies and without doubt more details will be forthcoming as the situation evolves.