How about 1918 bad. That’s apparently the last time a flu virus was specifically more fatal to the young and healthy than children and the elderly and the Spanish Flu epidemic killed fifty million people world wide. Granted back then sick people didn’t have cheap over the counter medicines that could help them through an illness like Americans do now, nor the ability to maintain hygienic conditions with good quality sanitizing products, but with Mexico’s fatality rate so far looking to be at 7% or I’m finding it hard to be nonchalant about this potential pandemic.
I became aware of the epidemic in Mexico Saturday when the numbers were small but worrisome. 800 infected in Mexico with over 20 confirmed fatalities and eight suspected cases here. Now their are a confirmed 1300 infected in Mexico with over 100 fatalities and at least 30 cases all over the United States. New York, Kansas, Ohio, Texas and California have had confirmed Swine flu infections. There’s a map charting the infections here. Canada, Spain, France and London may also have cases.
I have seen unconfirmed reports that there are Swine Flu infections in Alabama.
The C.D.C has admitted that the seasonal flu vaccines people have will not be effective against this new strain. Governments around the world are beginning quarantines of anyone suspected of having the virus, as well as tightening restrictions on pork products and travel.
There isn’t a lot of information out there, the C.D.C page on the outbreak is nothing you haven’t heard on the news. Oddly the deaths have so far been limited to Mexico, although they were all young healthy people. I would theorize that although Mexico City is a as urban as any U.S. city Americans in general have more access to potentially life saving items and luxuries than the average Mexican. Cheap over the counter medicine and central air conditioning may among other things really be making a difference in the outcome of a nasty bug. On the other hand there is such a small sample of cases thus far that we won’t know how lethal this new flu is until we have infection numbers similar to Mexico.
Right now no one can tell you honestly how bad this may get, but those with a survivalist mind-set (myself included) are taking precautions. If it’s possible stay home for the next few days and get plenty of liquids in the house and stock up on fever reducing medications as well as the regular flu stuff you keep in the house. Don’t wait to pick up supplies, if more people get sick there will be runs on grocery stores and those crowds may be full of infected people. Many people are recommending you buy breathing masks, but if you don’t already have them going to stores where sick people may be congregating to get them (pharmacies and the like) isn’t a better plan than laying low. You can buy many items online if you can wait a few days for them. The only reason for you to be in a store for the next couple of days is if you don’t have necessities like food, water and toilet paper on hand.
There are already rumors circulating about the flu designed to make you panic. I have seen several comments implying that this was a bio-terror attack by the United States on Mexico and much is being made on various conspiracist forums I will never link to of the death of Felipe Solis just hours after meeting our President. Some newshounds are pointing out that this outbreak came only days after Fort Detrick began an investigation into missing viruses from their bio-warfare facility. It is an odd coincidence, but I have been told that samples turn up missing from government labs with a frequency that would alarm the public if they realized it. Depending on the amount of tin foil hattery in your area (and New York is lousy with people who believe in such nonsense) this sort of conspiracy mongering so early in the event is another reason to stay home if you can.
There’s no way to verify these statements, but readers have sent alarming stories to the BBC which imply that the situation in Mexico is worse than the media is letting on:
I’m a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.
There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
Antonio Chavez, Mexico City
There are several more testimonies similar to this one. There is no way to know how many sicknesses and deaths slipped by the bureaucrats before the alerts were issued so the mortality rate for the flu may be higher or lower in Mexico than the 7% it’s at now.
Take the day off, buy as much food and water as you need and take a mini-vacation. I know it’s easy to say when you work at home as I do, but if you can stay off the streets do so until you’re sure this bug has mutated into a less lethal form. However there is no need to panic, yet. But it is time to get prepared. Except in Mexico most infections were no worse than the regular flu so stay cool. Water, food and toilet paper, if you don’t have enough to last you a week or more of staying home than get some now.
Cross posted at Red Alerts
Update: If you leave a comment with a link you may be put in moderation.
Here’s a link to a supposed real time infection map. Mexico has remained the epicenter with more than 1600 infected.
I have seen unconfirmed reports that there were more than 100 sick kids in the Queens prep school but only eight were tested originally. They all tested positive for Swine Flu. If true the C.D.C and DHS are playing fast and loose with the numbers in order to control the panic that will happen if people see a new virus spreading quickly. The official tally there is now 28 infected.
Mexico City has been hit with an earthquake. The gods are angry down there.
Update: A private school in South Carolina has been closed after kids coming from Mexico were found to have Flu-like symptoms. Greenville News (perhaps America’s worst newspaper) gives bare bone details, omitting facts you may want to know like where the school is located. The Newberry Academy website has a statement about the closure.