Swine Flu Fears Prompts Some to Self-Infect: Before Deadlier Strain Emerges

May 7, 2009

(ChattahBox)—According to the New York Times, fears of the swine flu mutating and becoming more deadly at the end of the summer, have prompted some people to consider purposely infecting themselves now, with the milder flu strain that is currently infecting people in the United States.

Some parents have even considered throwing “flu parties”, similar to the old “chicken pox” parties moms used to have with an infected child, before the existence of the vaccine, to have more control over when their kids would become infected with the inevitable childhood disease.

Most influenza specialists oppose the idea of self-infection, cautioning there are too many unknowns about the swine flu virus and purposely becoming infected could have deadly or unforeseen consequences.

Much of the recent talk of swine flu self-infection has erupted on health care blogs, including Effect Measure and flutrackers.com, where posters claiming to be health professionals floated the (crazy?) idea of self-infection to develop an immunity protection against the next big wave of a deadlier strain expected this fall.

The proponents of self-infection point to the history of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic discussed in the book, “The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry which surmises the strain in the spring was milder than the second wave emerging in the fall and winter that killed thousands. People are thinking now, the same scenario may develop with the swine flu epidemic.

So, many are now asking the question: Would it be safer to become infected with the milder strain, staging a preemptive strike against the deadlier strain? Dr. Anne Moscona, a flu specialist at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, called the idea “nuts.”

Still, other health professionals think becoming infected with the milder flu strain now may have merits, but no one is advocating purposeful self-infection. Besides the issue of the present milder strain, there are also concerns about a shortage of the antiviral drug Tamiflu and of the expected swine flu vaccine.

The World Health Organization admitted on Wednesday that drug makers would only be able to produce 1.2 billion doses of vaccine in six months. This concerns many people who are fearful of a more deadly outbreak in the fall with not enough vaccines to protect everyone.

There is also the fear that the swine flu will become even deadlier than many now believe, if the flu decides to mutate further with the bird flu, or even develops a resistance to Tamiflu.

However, with just 896 cases of swine flu to date in the U.S., it may be difficult to find an infected person to get close to so they might possibly sneeze or cough in your direction. Will frightened and determined people go so far as to show up on the doorsteps of people known to be infected?

There are certainly many unknowns with the swine flu, but Dr. Richard E. Besser of the CDC urges protection with a vaccine, Tamiflu and other preventative methods, like hand washing.


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One Response to “Swine Flu Fears Prompts Some to Self-Infect: Before Deadlier Strain Emerges”

  1. bSwine Flu/b Fears Prompts Some to Self-Infect: Before Deadlier b…/b « Swine Flu Information and Pandemic Status on May 7th, 2009 7:31 pm

    […] Originally posted here:  bSwine Flu/b Fears Prompts Some to Self-Infect: Before Deadlier b…/b […]

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