This is one of those very rare times when I’m glad I’m a shut-in. A new strain of flu in one of the world’s largest cities located in the heart of a failing state: What could go wrong?
This virus is a mix of human, pig and bird strains that prompted WHO to meet Saturday to consider declaring an international public health emergency — a step that could lead to travel advisories, trade restrictions and border closures. Spokesman Gregory Hartl said a decision would not be made Saturday.
Scientists have warned for years about the potential for a pandemic from viruses that mix genetic material from humans and animals. Another reason to worry is that authorities said the dead so far don’t include vulnerable infants and elderly. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults…
The CDC says two flu drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, seem effective against the new strain. Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the company is prepared to immediately deploy a stockpile of the drug if requested. Both drugs must be taken early, within a few days of the onset of symptoms, to be most effective.
Mexico’s Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said the country has enough Tamiflu to treat 1 million people — only one in 20 people in greater Mexico City alone — and that the medicine will be strictly controlled and handed out only by doctors.
If it’s susceptible to OTC drugs, presumably we’re okay; developing countries, not so much. In fact, with 60 already dead in Mexico and another 1,000 suspected cases, I wonder if the next drug racket the cartels down there get into won’t be Tamiflu. All we need now is for the virus to migrate to Pakistan, where the country’s already teetering, and we’ll have a true apocalyptic clusterfark to end all clusterfarks.
As for the immigration angle, the boss is already all over it. A perfectly secure border wouldn’t stop this from spreading — see, e.g., SARS hopping across the Pacific from China to Canada in 2003 — but it sure might slow it down. Ah well, it’s “racist” to even think such things. Apologies.
Update: Here we go.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirms two cases of swine flu in Kansas…
New York officials announced Saturday that 8 students there probably have swine flu, but they’re unsure of strain type.
How’s it spreading to so many far-flung places? There should be a chain of infection via visitors to or from Mexico, no?