Professors Urge Calm at Forum on Swine Flu

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Despite the recent panic over H1N1 swine flu, the illness poses no more risk than the typical flu, according to UC Berkeley professors who spoke at a campus forum Monday.

While the swine flu seems more dangerous and unusual because of its emergence after flu season, it is no more infectious than the regular flu, said Wayne Getz, an environmental science professor.

More people die from the regular flu on an annual basis, he added.

"(The swine flu) is no worse than any other strain at this point in time," Getz said.

Malcolm X Elementary School in South Berkeley was closed this week after a parent of two students at the school was diagnosed with a probable case of swine flu.

However, Getz said closing schools is an unnecessary response to the swine flu pandemic.

"I think closing an entire school when one person is infected is a bit of an overreaction," he said.

The swine flu has been found in 36 states with a total of 279 cases nationwide-including 30 confirmed cases in California-according to the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only one American has died from the disease so far.

Public health professor Arthur Reingold said there is currently no swine flu vaccine.

"Because the flu shot does not help with (the swine flu), none of us is protected," he said.

Symptoms of the swine flu are similar to symptoms of the regular flu-including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, according to the centers' Web site.

The Web site states that although the swine flu originated in pigs, it is not transmitted by food such as pork or pork products.

Getz said the best way to prevent the swine flu's spread is by tracing its path of contact in order to locate its source. He said the first stages of the swine flu can be symptomless and people may not realize they have been infected.

Russell Vance, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, said the swine flu is constantly evolving.

"We cannot predict where this virus is going," Vance said. "It is very dynamic."


Contact Christina Berke at [email protected]

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