Could the current "swine flu" outbreak presage a new pandemic?

The best information out there is still "maybe." This strain of swine flu is new, including genetic components of prior swine, avian, and human influenza viruses. It is difficult to predict how contagious and how virulent any new disease organism might be.

To reduce the chances of your contracting this flu and other infectious diseases and of passing them on to others, please remember to wash your hands with soap and hot water frequently; to avoid touching your face, mouth, and eyes; and to cough into a sleeve, shoulder, or other cloth or tissue.

As of 1 PM ET, the CDC reported 40 confirmed U.S. cases. There were no reported deaths. This contrasts sharply with news reports of over 100 deaths in Mexico. However, the World Health Organization reports only 18 of the cases in Mexico have been confirmed to be the new virus, with no mention of how many of the 18, if any, resulted in death.

Lab test show that this new flu strain is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir.

CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate their response. Yesterday the Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, declared a U.S. public health emergency, allowing funding of the public health response. Also, CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is releasing one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak.

Click here for the CDC's most-current information about the outbreak.