Swine Flu may hit again

By May 11, 2009

International (MNN) — Since March, rumors of a swine flu pandemic have been dominating  the news. But in Mexico, the number of cases is subsiding, leaving many to wonder if it was just a scare.

The swine flu, indentified as the H1N1 influenza virus on April 30, reached a Phase 5 outbreak. At Phase 6, a virus is considered a pandemic, but still has not reached pandemic.

However, Carolyn Wetzel, health programs coordinator at Food for the Hungry, said there is still reason to be concerned. She said if the virus reached southern Africa, the result could be tragic.

"Thirty percent of the population is infected with HIV," Wetzel said. "So we know that if the pandemic flu reached there, we could see serious impact [on] a much greater scale than we would see in a more-developed country where we have a much smaller number of immuno-compromised people."

Although the first wave of the virus seems to be ending, Wetzel said people should be careful because historically,  sometimes the second and third waves of a virus can be worse.

While FFH does not have a ministry in Mexico and has so far been unaffected, they are educating and preparing people around the world.

"If we are prepared for the escalation of this situation, then we can really make a difference in terms of saving lives," Wetzel said. To do this, FFH has put together information packets for their staff and pictorial pamphlets for individuals who may not be literate. These have been translated into about five different languages to inform people everywhere about the virus, how it is spread, and the guidelines for response.

To further prepare for a pandemic that could occur, FFH needs your prayers and support.

"Every year there are disasters around the world–some that we can and some that we cannot respond to because of funds," Wetzel said. "We can always use contributions and assistance in responding."

Wetzel also said there have been several instances where an individual lived in an area of the world that received aid from FFH. Years later, the individual moved to the U.S. and is now serving with FFH.

"It's so exciting when we come across cases like that, where people can really testify to the impact that an individual's donation has made in the life of someone," Wetzel said.

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