Swine flu still shaping up to be a pretty ordinary flu

Health Canada microbiologists confirm that the Mexican, American and Canadian variants of the swine flu are all the same strain:

Canadian scientists who sequenced Canadian and Mexican samples of the swine flu virus say it is the same strain, even though the virus seems to cause more severe symptoms in Mexico.

Scientists at Health Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg genetically sequenced and compared samples of the H1N1 flu virus from Nova Scotia, Ontario and Mexico. It’s the first time the sequence has been completed on samples from Mexico and Canada, said officials during a news conference in Ottawa Wednesday.

The results have ruled out a mutation to explain why the Mexican cases have been much more severe than elsewhere, said Dr. Frank Plummer, the chief science adviser of the national lab.

“Essentially, what it appears to suggest, is that there is nothing at the genetic level that differentiates this virus that we got from Mexico and those from Nova Scotia and Ontario, that explains apparent differences in disease severity between Mexico and Canada and the United States,” said Plummer.

— CBC News, “Swine flu is same strain in Canada and Mexico“, May 6th, 2009.

So what makes it so deadly in Mexico?  Pre-existing medical conditions?  Environmental stimulus?  Genetic predisposition?  Quality of care?

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