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by Ben Sherwood
The dreaded swine flu is spreading, infecting Americans in four states and killing at least 80 in Mexico. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of a "public health emergency."
"This virus has clearly a pandemic potential," says Margaret Chan, director general of WHO.
The disease itself sounds especially ominous, spreading quickly from human to human. It's "a completely novel virus," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Indeed, the new strain is a mixture of human virus, bird virus, and pig viruses from all over the world. Experts say this new variant of swine flu seems particularly worrisome because people are getting sick without any contact with pigs. Even worse, young, healthy people are dying at a striking rate, a telltale sign of the worst flu epidemics.