I may be gloriously wrong on this. But, Ill go out on a limb and suggest the possibility that this H1N1 swine flu has been in Washington state, and other states as well, for quite a while. I won’t be surprised if it turns out that many people who suffered a flu or flu-like illness over the past month actually had this strain.
And last night’s announcement of Washington’s first six “probable” cases (see this post) added some support. I was told by both the state Department of Health and King County’s public health officials that none of the six people who harbor the suspected virus has any connection to Mexico. They didn’t travel there, nor did they contact anyone who recently did.
In fact, in King County, the three cases only came to light because they bypassed the health department. Why? Because the health department was only agreeing to test samples that met the criteria of severe flu symptoms PLUS some connection to Mexico. These three, then, were tested by independent clinical laboratories, and then forwarded to the state when they proved to be a Type-A influenza virus.
(One of those labs was at the University of Washington, and I’m still trying to learn about the other two, as well as the cases in Snohomish and Spokane.)
If they had no connection to Mexico, and they caught it locally, then this suggests that there was a good-sized reservoir of infected people in Seattle by the end of last week. It still may have come from Mexico, but perhaps a month ago, or longer.