Medical Discovery News

The Next Pandemic

November 07, 2023 Medical Discovery News Season 18 Episode 886

886 The Next Pandemic

 Welcome to Medical Discovery News.  I’m Dr. Norbert Herzog. 

 And I’m Dr. David Niesel 

Fall fairs bring up changing leaves, funnel cake, and – swine flu. 

 Swine flu? 

 Yep – fall fairs involve AG fairs that involve a barn full of pigs which raises the risk of spreading new types of swine flu. 

 Zoonotic diseases, which are viruses and bacteria passed to humans from animals, are behind six out ten known infectious diseases in people. COVID-nineteen is the most recent.

 In the US, we tend to think these diseases come from elsewhere, but that’s not true. For example, since two thousand eleven, there have been more cases of swine flu in the US than anywhere else in the world. 

 Most cases were tied to agricultural shows and fairs. Pigs can be infected by bird, human and pig viruses all at the same time.  Since the genetic information of the flu virus is divided into eight segments, if a pig cell is infected by two or more types of flu, those segments can get mixed up to create an entirely new flu virus.  

 That’s how new flu viruses get made risk starting a new pandemic. It is estimated that at least one pig tests positive for flu at twenty-five percent of all fairs. 

 Although many fairs have hand sanitation stations, few people use them.  Some fairs are careful and send pigs home after seventy-two hours, before flu symptoms can appear.   

 The next pandemic is waiting for us. We can support and encourage our public health system to be vigilant. We must ignore the misinformation put out by politicians and news outlets that lack the expertise to comment on public health policies.   

 We are Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, at UTMB and Quinnipiac University, where biomedical discoveries shape the future of medicine.   For much more and our disclaimer go to or subscribe to our podcast. Sign up for expanded print episodes at