True Origins of Swine Flu

Blog-cred to my friend B.P. for the following hilarious pic:

svine-flu1

On a more serious note, I don’t know whether to be concerned about the flu or not.   Initially, reports stated it was a combination of swine, avian, and human influenza, but a more recent report disputes that composition.   Here is a link to an interesting and more detailed discussion of the little baddie.   We were encouragingly told fatalities were nearly non-existent in the U.S. because Tamiflu and Reneza were effective in treating it.  

Still, I find some of the messages coming out of the government disturbingly contradictory.  We’re closing schools nationwide to contain the spread, but closing the border is illogical?

WTF?!  Let’s think this through for a minute…How can it make sense to close schools to stop the spread of infection, but it doesn’t make sense to close the border to do the same?  Congratulations America, you voted in a president who thinks you’re stupid enough to buy his oratory, and ignore his actions. 

I’m pretty sure the Mexican citizens that have watched over a hundred of their neighbors or relatives die know that they’re going to get better–possibly life-saving–medical treatment if they cross the border and visit an American hospital.  So why wouldn’t they endeavor to do so (and spread the disease in the process)?  Hell, it’s probably what I’d do if my kid got sick. 

Honestly, if cruise lines and foreign governments are banning travel (or proposing such bans) to and from Mexico, you’d think someone in the Obama administration might take the hint.  Unless there are other motives at work.  Whatever could those motives be?  I’ll take some stabs in the dark:

1)  Closing the border would piss off Obama’s Hispanic constituents.

2) Closing the border would severely disrupt the flow of goods and food into this country, causing Americans to realize just how much we import, and harming an already reeling economy.

3) The measures necessary to close the border are beyond the means of the government, and they don’t want to show weakness (this possibility I deem very implausible). 

4) Closing the border would startle even more Americans into seeing the autocratic socialist tendencies identity of this administration and present Congress. 

5) Closing the border would cause mass hysteria or panic that would be more destructive than merely letting the disease run its course. 

6) There really is nothing to fear from this flu.  After all, 37,000 Americans die annually of “regular” flu strains anyway.  

I’m hoping for #6, but given how little we know about this thing, and remembering the specter of the 1918 “Spanish” influenza that killed 40 million worldwide, it’s a gamble.   I will say this…one doctor I’ve spoken to is furious about the choice to let the border stay open.  

He’s pointed out that having a flood of sick people who don’t speak English coming here for treatment makes the task of tracking and combatting the disease all the more difficult.  Not only because you have to try and bridge a language barrier that costs precious time and accuracy in diagnosing the disease, but you may be dealing with people who do not want to tell you where they really came from and who they’ve been in contact with (for fear of being deported).  In the field of epidemiology, among the first steps in fighting a disease is tracking it to its source and impeding its spread.  

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Change You Can Barely See

An interesting video to put the $100 million president Obama has promised to “slash” from the Federal budget into some sort of comprehensible context.  Perspective is a wonderful (and somewhat frightening) thing.