Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Swine Flu: Deadly Threat or Alarmism?
Well I see that Don Martin has swapped his fedora for a white coat....and declared that the swine flu outbreak is nothing to worry about.
It’s likely beyond containment now, but to describe the Mexican swine flu outbreak as a potential re-run of the Spanish influenza pandemic seems, subject to change without notice, wildly alarmist......Today’s swine flu is no 1918 influenza, so perish the comparison.
When in fact, although we shouldn't panic, we simply don't know enough to rule anything out.
What we do know is that patient zero got sick on April 2nd...and the first recorded fatality happened eleven days later.
Which means that the virus has been running wild in Mexico for at least a month. It has only just arrived here.
And we still don't know why so far it has only killed Mexicans.
Is it because there have been many more cases than reported...and there are some other underlying factors?
A couple of factors could be causing the greater death toll in Mexico, said Howard Markel, a physician and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.
"They may have had cases for several months now and probably have a greater number of people who have the disease, probably tens of thousands," he said.
Also, he said, the people who have died in Mexico could have had what he called "another co-factor," such as taking medicine or having pre-existing infections that would make them more vulnerable. It's also possible, he said, that those who died had an underlying genetic predisposition or condition.
Is it because they were poor?
Julio Frenk, former health minister of Mexico and now dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, holds an opposing view: The disease could be killing people who are not healthy because of their living conditions.
"There could also be some elements in the host," he said. "These are poor people. Maybe their immune response is not as efficient. So we're going to have to just keep trying to understand why this difference and whether that continues as the epidemic unfolds."
Or is it just the first relatively mild wave of what could become a deadly pandemic? Just like the one that broke out in the Spring of 1918. But didn't turn into an agent of mass murder until August....when the second wave hit.
The bottom line: We still don't know anything about this new virus or where it's going.
Panic is bad, but so is denial.
Idiocy is WORSE.
“It is a tragedy only for people living ... in slums in Asia or Mexico. But will the honeymoon couple from Edinburgh die? No. A couple of Strepsils will do the job."
Don Martin should put his fedora back on.
And what you don't know can kill you...