Yes, you read that correctly. At the time I write this, only one person in the whole country has died from this disease. From the way the media talks, though, every other person in America has it, or, if they don't, then the pandemic's about to spread. Well, let's get to the root of this problem. From UK Reuters:
Barely 100 days in office, President Barack Obama is facing his first domestic emergency with the outbreak of swine flu and is seeing yet again how fresh challenges can erupt from the unlikeliest of places.
In the space of a month, he has had to deal with a North Korean missile launch and a hostage drama involving Somali pirates half a world away.
Um, no. Barack Obama did not do anything about North Korea, AT ALL (see Is Korean/American History Repeating Itself), nor did he do anything about the Somalian pirates, AT ALL (see I Love SEALs @ There's My Two Cents.)
But alas, those are different rants, for another time. I digress:
And now, from Mexico, comes a new flu that has killed up to 149 people south of the U.S. border but has not had the same deadly force in the United States, sickening at least 65.
If there is any clear tendency he has demonstrated in his response to all of these challenges, it is that he has responded to all of them with an abundance of caution.
He denounced the missile launch as provocative but made no sudden moves. The Somali pirate crisis played out over four days before U.S. snipers killed three pirates and freed the hostage American freighter captain.
In the case of this swine flu, Obama has walked a fine line, appearing concerned but trying not to generate panic among Americans already on edge from the weak U.S. economy.
"This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it is not a cause for alarm," Obama said on Monday.
Really, Barry? Then would you please tell the media to shut up? They way they talk, we're on the verge of a pandemic.
...[Janet] Napolitano said the number of confirmed swine flu cases is likely to rise in the next few days, but that "we are confident in the efforts underway across the federal government and across state and local governments to keep Americans safe and healthy."
Good heavens, not again. Much like with the Korean/American History, history has popped up with some rather interesting notes. From capitalcentury.com:
On the cold afternoon of February 5, 1976, an Army recruit told his drill instructor at Fort Dix that he felt tired and weak but not sick enough to see military medics or skip a big training hike.
Within 24 hours, 19-year-old Pvt. David Lewis of Ashley Falls, Mass., was dead, killed by an influenza not seen since the plague of 1918-19, which took 500,000 American lives and 20 million worldwide.
Two weeks after the recruit's death, health officials disclosed to America that something called "swine flu" had killed Lewis and hospitalized four of his fellow soldiers at the Army base in Burlington County.
The ominous name of the flu alone was enough to touch off civilian fear of an epidemic. And government doctors knew from tests hastily conducted at Dix after Lewis' death that 500 soldiers had caught swine flu without falling ill.
Any flu able to reach that many people so fast was capable of becoming another worldwide plague, the doctors warned, raising these questions:
Does America mobilize for mass inoculations in time to have everybody ready for the next flu season? Or should the country wait to see if the new virus would, as they often do, get stronger to hit harder in the second year?
Thus was born what would become known to some medical historians as a fiasco and to others as perhaps the finest hour of America's public health bureaucracy.
No, I read the article, and it was mostly a fiasco. Only David Lewis died from the swine flu back in 1976, but the government decided to get everyone in America immunized against the dreaded disease.
Weeks after Lewis died, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and other federal public health officials were meeting in Washington, trying to decide if they should recommend the government start a costly program of mass inoculations.
One doc later told the authors of "The Epidemic that Never Was" that he and others in on the meetings realized there was "nothing in this for the CDC except trouble," especially because a decision had to be made fast to get the immunizations manufactured by the fall.
The whole thing was a lose-lose situation, as doctors faced criticism if the vaccine wasn't ready, but if they immunized everyone and the pandemic didn't come, they would still be criticized. But still, they started the immunizations. Then, things kind of went wrong...
Within days, however, several people who had taken the shot fell seriously ill. On Oct. 12, three elderly people in the Pittsburgh area suffered heart attacks and died within hours of getting the shot, which led to suspension of the program in Pennsylvania.
The effects of the vaccine were as bad as the flu. In fact, more people died from the vaccine then died from the flu.
On Dec. 16, increasingly concerned about reports of the vaccine touching off neurological problems, especially rare Guillain-Barre syndrome, the government suspended the program, having inoculated 40 million people for a flu that never came.
No pandemic, no massive chaos, just a bad virus and horrific hemorrhaging of taxpayer's money.
The question now is, Will history repeat itself? Obama is already asking for $1.5 billion dollars to fight the swine flu. If he decides to force everyone to get inoculated, well, we're gonna have some trouble.
Yes, swine flu does sound very sinister. But, like I said at the beginning of this post, only one person of the billions in America has died from it. That doesn't make the death any less important, but it should put things in perspective. Here's an interesting note from WebMD:
If your doctor suspects swine flu, he or she would be able to write you a prescription for Tamiflu or Relenza. Those drugs may not be required; U.S. swine flu patients have made a full recovery without it.
I don't know -yet- if all this hype will have been about nothing, but Rahm Emmanuel said "Never waste a good crisis," so I have some suspicions.
No one can explain why people in Mexico have died and people in America have done alright; it could be alot of things. But I for one am sick to death of this fear mongering. Yes, I don't know whether or no this will get worse. But at the moment, I do know two things:
1) 68 people infected is by no means a epidemic.
2) The fear mongering is making this whole thing out to be worse than it actually is.
So please, until we have about 1 million people in the country affected by this sickness, can we please not run around screaming that the sky is falling?
(Postscript: I don't know if there's a vaccination against this round of swine flu. Back in 1976 there was a vaccine, but WebMD has indicated there is not a vaccine. It's probable that after the fiasco with the first swine flu vaccine, they're not giving it out again, but I don't really know.)
Is the World Health Organization an extension of the U.N? Seriously. This is the kind of stupidity I would expect from the United Nations.
There are, I believe, 150 cases of swine flu outside Mexico. Actually, according to one website I was looking at, it's 148, but still basically 150 cases in nine different countries.
So what does W.H.O. decide to do? Stop just short of declaring a pandemic. The Associated Press reports:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has delivered a strong signal that a swine flu pandemic is imminent by increasing its alert level to five.
The alert phase is characterised by human-to-human transmission of the virus into at least two countries, and indicates that the time to finalise planned mitigation measures is short.
They're about ready to declare a pandemic based on 148 cases of flu outside Mexico? 148? You've gotta be kidding me. As for human-to-human trasmisson, that's also how normal flu spreads, a cold spreads, chicken pox spreads, I could probably come up with a list, given enough time, of diseases that spread through human to human contact.
How is this deserving of an almost pandemic? The cases in other countries, and the death here in the U.S. happened because the people involved had recently visited Mexico.