Field of Science

A personal case of swine flu

Last week, after my wife and two kids had just returned from a vacation in Japan, we all got sick with influenza-like symptoms. We went to the hospital, and there they downplayed the risk that this had anything to do with swine flu. Yet, they tested our oldest son and my wife, who had the most severe symptoms, and the results showed that my son was positive for Influenza A, while my wife was not. A second test confirmed that my wife did not have Influenza A. The test for Swine Flu takes ten days, and we expect to hear from them this coming week. In the meantime we have all had fever etc., but are now symptom-free and feel well.

At the hospital we were given prescriptions for TamiFlu, and instructions to stay home for a while. Now, what I am wondering is why more care wasn't given, considering the scare swine flu is causing, and the potential pandemic that it might cause? First, we were given the option to have a test done. They didn't advise it, but just agreed to do it when we asked for it. Second, we had to get the prescriptions filled at a local pharmacy ourselves. This is a far cry from the precautions of, say, the authorities of Hong Kong, which quarantined a whole hotel for a week. I believe that was over the top, but somewhere between that and sending people off to the pharmacist on their own feels like a better approach to me.

No one has offered us any explanation for how one of my sons could have Influenza A, while the rest of us apparently did not. My wife was the first to show any symptoms, with my oldest son following shortly after. Then myself and then my youngest son, who luckily had the fewest symptoms. So, how could the virus strains be different? If he really had Influenza A, how come the rest of us didn't catch it? How could we get two different viruses, and not all contaminate each other?

I fear that no one will ever be able to tell us.

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