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Swine Flu Likely to Return to U.S. Next Winter
Date:5/6/2009

Experts can't predict whether it will be more virulent or not

WEDNESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Many experts are predicting that the current outbreak of swine flu, much like the regular seasonal flu, will subside during the summer months and reappear in the fall.

That return could come with a vengeance, or not.

"We can't actually be certain, but there likely will be a reemergence," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "We're seeing this virus at a time that is usually the end of the flu season, so you would expect, because the flu virus is hardier in cold weather, that there will probably be a return."

"If you draw parallels to previous flu pandemics, the pattern has always been a mild epidemic in the early summer or late spring, then you see a larger epidemic in the winter," said Dr. Luis Z. Ostrosky, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. "If this were to follow the pattern of previous outbreaks, we would see it again in the winter."

Ostrosky was referring to 1918 (Spanish flu pandemic), 1957 (Asian flu) and 1968 (Hong Kong flu).

This pattern of an initial "herald wave" followed by a second wave is common in the flu world.

"Sometimes we will see a little spike of flu towards the end of the season with that turning up next year. Maybe that's what this is. That would be very typical," said Dr. John Treanor, a professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "My guess would be that if this virus does not end up causing significant disease in the northern hemisphere over the summer, it will certainly do so in the fall."

So far, some of the most affected nations have been in North America and Europe, but the flu is spread more easily in the winter, and it's already f
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