FOX47 NEWS - UW Studying Swine Outbreak

Jeff Angileri
Apr 27, 2009, 8:46 PM

Health experts at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine say the current strain of pig swine virus is something the world's never seen before.

It primarily causes pneumonia -- people with the flu will have a fever, muscle aches, body aches, sore throat, runny eyes, runny nose, said Dr. Christopher Olsen.

Olsen oversees a laboratory at the UW devoted to studying why swine influenza spreads to humans. He says while the illness originated with pigs, it's now spreading from human to human.

Swine flu is not a food-borne disease, so there are no issues with handling pork, with eating pork.

Olsen says flu viruses can change rapidly, and because this strain is so new, many questions remain.

Why we've seen fatal cases in Mexico and not in the United States is still an open question, Olsen said.

The Department of Homeland Security is preparing as if the swine flu is a full pandemic. That means UW experts will likely have to wait awhile before they get to perform their own research.

That strain of virus is still in the hands of the CDC, so it's not available for other researchers to work with yet, but it certainly will be, Olsen said.

People who contract the virus in the U.S. are sick for seven to ten days. It then takes another week to fully recover.

Online: http://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/pbs/olsenlab/olsenindex.htm

Meanwhile, college campuses in Madison have plans into place to protect students from swine flu.

The University of Wisconsin and Madison Area Technical College sent e-mails to students today, reminding them to practice good hygiene.

Viruses can spread quickly in classrooms and dormitories.

School health officials are advising students to wash their hands regularly, and if they have flu symptoms -- don't go to class.

So far, no cases have been reported on either campus, but officials say they're still taking proactive steps.

We're taking this as an opportunity to review our current flu pandemic plan, updating staff, reminding people about the plan, said Sarah Van Orman with University Health Services.

If anything ever did develop, we would send out mass e-mails and mass alerts saying do not come to class, said Joshua Cotillier, Health & Safety manager at MATC.

The UW is part of the state surveillance network, which collects samples to determine infections in people.

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