Could Swine Flu Have Come From America?

Jon is a staff writer for Science.

HIV/AIDS could shed some light on swine flu’s origins. And what it shows upends common wisdom.

A 2004 study asked where Mexicans who migrated to California for seasonal farm work became infected with HIV. It turned out that more migrants became infected in California than in Mexico, with the infected migrants returning to their rural villages.

There’s a widespread presumption that the current swine flu epidemic began in Mexico. What if the virus first jumped from an infected pig in the United States to a migrant Mexican who returned home to Mexico, which then had an explosive outbreak of the disease?

Consider, too, that AIDS first surfaced in gay men in Los Angeles, and that it took 3 years before researchers even recognized that AIDS spread in heterosexual people in Africa, which clearly is the origin of that epidemic.

Posted in Health