April 27th, 2009

Swine flu threat?

It’s always possible, of course, that this time it will be the terrible pandemic that is feared.

But I wonder. When I did a search of this blog for “influenza,” for example, I came up with this post from the beginning of 2006, which begins with the words:

An article appeared in this Sunday’s NY Times advising us that our relations with our neighbors may need to change if the much-feared bird flu pandemic ever arrives.

Ah yes, remember the dread bird flu? It did kill a number of people, which is a sad thing, just as the swine flu has already done. But this does not a dangerous pandemic make.

The words “swine flu” ring a bell. In 1976, there was a promised epidemic that never came, and a flawed vaccination that caused more deaths than that year’s flu did. Not a good precedent, although much better than that of the worldwide pandemic of 1918, in which the flu killed approximately fifty million people, most of them young adults in their prime (see my post about the scope of that disaster).

A work of great art that was spawned by the 1918 pandemic is the long short story “Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” by Katherine Anne Porter. Porter herself was nearly a victim of the disease, as she describes in this work of fiction that is based on her own experiences. One of the now-neglected masterpieces of American literature (and a beautiful love story as well), it explains better than anything I’ve ever read what the horror of those times must have felt like to those who were there.

22 Responses to “Swine flu threat?”

  1. Mira's Desk Says:

    As with everyting in life it is best to be prepared. Here is a link to the CDC for information on the Swine Flu. http://pfx.me/NR

  2. Baklava Says:

    Off topic,

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Obama-promises-major-apf-15039606.html?.v=3

    But this is the worst president of all that I know. ABSOLUTELY NO UNDERSTANDING of all the achievement that the U.S. has made. Absolutely no understanding of how many advancements the private sector has made.

    Bad mouthing the U.S. again because of his own failure to understand a topic. Can somebody slip me a valium?

  3. Gray Says:

    The skunk’s ass on Janet Napolitano’s head has urged calm.

  4. zombywolf Says:

    I got what I would call the flu back at the start of the month–no high fever, but I run 97 most of the time so high for me is 99. I didn’t go to the dr–called and they said it was viral because it came on so fast–take mucinex and use saline spray. This thing went right to my bronchial tubes for two weeks then I coughed for another week–had to resort to cough syrup for the first time in close to 20 years–worst bone jarring cough I’ve ever had. If it was the new flu–I can understand why so many have died in Mexico since this goes right to the chest–without starting on expectorant immediately–it can lead to pneumonia in no time.

  5. nyomythus Says:

    I just hope Hispanics on the Left don’t create a distracting parallel media issue by stating, “Oh, because it’s coming out of Latin America — they gotta call it ‘swine’ flu — because were all pigs!?”

    Noooooooooooooooo!

    Sorry — I’m in a rare witty mood :\

  6. br549 Says:

    No problems, Napolitano is on it.

    Perhaps now, however, Obama will get around to picking a surgeon general, and a new head for the CDC.

  7. dane Says:

    If we actually controlled our borders we would have the ability to shut them down if necessary. Unfortunately we don’t control them so we can’t shut them.

  8. Paul Gordon Says:

    Found this at Instapundit:

    SHANNON LOVE: Swine Flu Shows How We Live In Good Times“Being able to fret about just one serious communicable disease is a luxury beyond price.”

    -

  9. nyomythus Says:

    Swine Flu Shows How We Live In Good Times — good point.

  10. sergey Says:

    I am old enough to remember at least 10 public health or environment scares. Almost every time the fears were wildly exaggerated or fail to materialise altogether. But the menace of pandemy of a new deadly virus is the most serious and realistic of them. I worked as epidemiologist, both in laboratory and in field trips in Central Asia, translated the WHO main mongraph on the subject, so I just know: it can happen, and it is impossible to predict the scope and severity of outbreak.

  11. sergey Says:

    Early signs are that this virus is airborne and easily transmitted from human to human. It is impossible to contain such form of infection. The only hope is reported efficiency of Tamiflu in mitigation of symptoms. This can reduce lethality, propably to a great measure, but does not reduce rate of spread – not a bit.

  12. sergey Says:

    If there were a political will, the best thing to do now would be completely stop all international passenger aviation for a month at least, to gain some time to sort things out. Domestic flights also should be restricted.

  13. Cylar Says:

    I think this would be a good time for the World Health Organization to launch a PR campaign demonstrating their concern for common people everywhere.

    They could call it “WHO cares.”

  14. huxley Says:

    Over the holidays I got the worst cold/flu/whatever I’ve had in ten years. It dropped straight into my chest and I slept little for a couple days. It took about three weeks for the cough to work its way out of my system. I rarely get sick, knock on wood.

    From what I read, we are overdue for a pandemic. The WMD that I find most scary are the biologicals.

  15. SAB Says:

    The media has been harping (and I think hoping) on “pandemic” for so many years now, they may finally get their wish.

  16. SteveH Says:

    The big story here is the irrational extent of media hype and speculation, not swine flu. Tomorrow will be a new crisis. Anybody notice a pattern here?

  17. zombywolf Says:

    it would help lessen spreading if businesses were more understanding when their employees have to take sick days—no business wants you to take them–same with schools—hence we end up with more people infected–I also noticed Foxnews today advocating you go to your dr–if you aren’t really bad–better just to call your dr than infect everyone there–as it was when I was sick–I had to go to the grocery or we would have starved–and the drugstore–husband has to have road map to what he would have had to buy–he would probably still be looking for saline nasal spray–which btw is supposed to be good to keep pathogens out of your nose–i. e. use after you go out in public to rinse germs out of your nose–

  18. Thursday Says:

    Dear Neo,

    Doesn’t anyone smell something foul in Denmark about this “Swine Flu” scare?

    If you missed it, last month Baxter, a pharmaceutical company, sends out live bird flu, H5N1, to 18 different countries. Quarantine procedures says in no uncertain terms that you must kill any harmful viruses before transporting them.

    Not only did Baxter not kill them before sending out a live deadly virus all across the world, but they also requested the labs in recipient of these viruses to mix them with the human flu, or the common cold. This almost virtually guarantees an antigen shift toward greater communicability in human to human transmission.

    Such gross incompetence, if it be incompetence, should have shut out Baxter from any further dealings with any lethal diseases.

    The follow-on reports of this snafu said that some lab in the Czech Republic discovered that it was live and sent word to have all the viral samples killed. So, we dodged a bullet there.

    And yet, Baxter is the same company that is tapped to develop the vaccine for the “Swine Flu” that’s spreading across the Mexico and the US.

    Why?

    If there isn’t a conspiracy here to kill millions of people for whatever reason, at the very least, Baxter shouldn’t be allowed within ten miles of any Swine Flu samples, much less manipulate it for a vaccine.

    I’m sorry, but there is something SERIOUSLY wrong here.

    Is it just me that’s seeing this?

  19. All those Swines « Troubling Trifles Says:

    [...] Neoneocon Huffington Post [...]

  20. sergey Says:

    Thursday, there is indeed a lot of SERIOSLY wrong assertions in your comment.
    1) Exchange of virus samples, including live viruses, is a routine practice of all virological labs. It is absolutely neccessary for comparisons and validation of taxonomy and detection of new variants of existing strains. This is especiously important for avian flu, since last several years there were fears that it can mutate and become contagious for humans.
    2) Avian flu IS NOT included in the list of harmful viruses because it does not pass from human to human, and cases of human infection from birds are extremely rare.
    3) Mixing viruses in vitro NEVER results in shifting genes, and even in case of double infection of an organism by two virus strains this process of assortation is extremely rare. In fact, mixing of different strains is also a routine procedure in preparation of wide-spectrum vaccines.

  21. Thursday Says:

    Sergey,

    Yes, I did make a glaring error in my comment above. Baxter actually shipped out vaccines that were contaminated with live H5N1.

    Here’s the source article.

    http://preventdisease.com/news/09/031109_baxter.shtml

    You can Google for more information if you wish. SERIOUSLY.

  22. ~Melatonin Effects Says:

    the use of face masks and boosting your immune system by taking lots of vitamin-C is still an effective way of preventing the spread of the Swine Flu virus.

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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