The Last Swine Flu Outbreak

swine
swine

Just saw the news that the US Public Health Service has declared a public health emergency over outbreaks of swine flu in New York, California, and other states. Might be a good time to post a story I wrote for WIRED a few years ago about modeling pandemics, and various strategies devised at Los Alamos National Labs to contain such outbreaks. The story begins with the story of the last major outbreak of swine flu in the U.S. - the 1976 non-epidemic out of Fort Dix, New Jersey. Though the anticipated pandemic never happened, the threat did prompt President Ford to declare an unprecedented nationwide immunization program.

The story contains both some lessons and some models for today's outbreak. Here's hoping it's contained, and that Mexico can wage a successful campaign against the outbreak raging inside its borders.