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Predicting the path of a swine flu outbreak is next to impossible, public health officials say. But Dr. Ira Longini has spent more than three decades trying to do just that.

And Longini says the apparent new strain of swine flu appears to be here to stay. "We are probably going to have to live with this virus for some time," he told CNN.

Longini specializes in the mathematical and statistical theory of epidemics. He works at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute at the Hutchinson Research Center in Seattle, Washington.

The researcher studies simulations of hypothetical influenzas and how they would spread across the United States. For the moment, he said, there is not enough information about the swine flu that has sickened hundreds in Mexico and about 50 people in the United States to accurately forecast how the disease will travel.

But Longini's simulations of a fictional killer flu that were ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the importance of steps health officials can take to prevent further spread of the virus. These measures include "social distancing," or encouraging those sickened with the flu to stay home or seek medical treatment; closing places where groups of people gather; and making anti-flu medications available to large portions of the population. Read full article »

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