Swine flu not a pandemic, says Noble Foundation expert

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ARDMORE, OK -- Most all of us have had the flu, but the swine flu is different. So what exactly is this new "swine flu"? How did this new strain of virus come about? Shelby Levins went to the experts at the Noble Foundation for answers.

Dr. Marilyn Roossink is a virologist who has worked at the Noble Foundation for more than 18 years. As a principal investigator for the foundation, she specializes in plant and fungal virus evolution. Dr. Roossinck says it's the evolution of the swine flu strain that make it so rare.

“It has to learned how to come from one human to another human, also very rare. Three very rare events to result in a strain like this new swine flu,” Dr. Roossink says.

Dr. Roossinck says most influenzas actually originate in birds, then the virus has to mutate to infect a mammal, and then evolve again to get from a mammal to a human.

“Through evolution it's acquired the ability to jump from human to human. Pigs are not to blame. You cannot get this from eating pigs or handling pigs or anything else. You will not get it from a pig,” she says.

Dr. Roossinck says while the name swine flu may be misleading, the strain is similar to the common flu virus.

“I don't think we should be overly worried. I think people should take normal precautions like you do every year when influenza shows up. It's just an unusual time of year.”

It's this time of year and the fact that the swine flu is infecting seemingly healthy adults that makes it different.

Dr. Roossinck says to be careful, but this is not a pandemic.

“This is not a pandemic, this is only a virus that could become a pandemic, and the only reason it could become a pandemic is because it's a new strain and that means no one is really immune to it.”

Dr. Roossinck also adds that most of the time influenzas don't kill people. They make you more susceptible to other things though.

So again use caution, wash your hands regularly, and visit your doctor if you're having flu like symptoms.

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