Swine Flu Nebraska
Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worry that a flu that has already killed eight people in Mexico could spread throughout the United States.
The swine flu is hitting late in the season, when human immune systems don't have what it takes to fight it off.
"They begin to multiply and spread throughout our bodies so there are no antibodies," said pathologist Dr. Steven Hinrich of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
He said the swine flu looks and acts a lot like the regular flu.
"Just as there are natural diseases in us all the time, there are natural diseases in swine or pigs," Hinrich said.
But he said swine flu has the capability of taking over a human body.
"It's mutated, so it's acquired a certain ability to replicate in humans, which it didn't have before," he said. "That must be what's causing it to infect that number of people."
About 1,000 people contracted swine flu in Mexico in the past week, and more than 60 of them died. There have been eight cases in Texas and California, but doctors said that all should recover.
Pigs or people who are in constant contact with pigs usually get swine flu.
"The concern is, is it being spread human-to-human?" he said.
CDC doctors said they don't know how swine flu spread in Mexico, but they said they're worried about it. They said current flu vaccines don't seem to have much impact against the strain. They do think that some drugs may be effective in treating it.
Hinrich said the last swine flu outbreak happened more than 40 years ago. He said scientists have since learned more about how to treat it.
"Good medical care can help people recover," he said.
The symptoms of swine flu include a bad cough, severe fever, sore muscles and fatigue. Hinrich said washing hands and wearing masks can help protect against it.