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Swine flu sufferers pass the bug to about two other people, fostering its spread, according to the first published study of the pandemic strain’s infectiousness in the Southern Hemisphere.
Researchers in New Zealand and the Netherlands used mathematical modeling to estimate the transmission potential of the new H1N1 strain, also known as swine flu. In New Zealand, where winter weather is fanning the worst flu season in more than a decade, the virus may be spreading more easily than it did in Mexico, where it emerged more than four months ago.
The research, published in today’s New Zealand Medical Journal, may help public health officials in North America and Europe anticipate what to expect when the pandemic virus circulates there next winter. The reproduction number in New Zealand is 1.96, meaning that up to 79 percent of people could potentially catch the germ during the epidemic, said Michael Baker, one of the study’s authors.