UPDATE: British flight attendant has been quarantined in London after falling ill on a BA flight from Mexico City to Heathrow.
According to The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we are in the early stages of a quickly spreading breakout of an odd variation of the Swine Flu, one that apparently is not responsive to existing vaccines. Reportedly originating in Mexico, its toll there is 81 people dead and over 1,300 sick. There have been eight confirmed cases in the US thus far. All eight cases in the US have recovered, however.
Just how serious this health threat is, is still being evaluated. At this point, there are conflicting opinions. The outbreak is one that a WHO official is describing as having “Pandemic Potential.” Note the emphasis on the word “potential.”
WHO spokesman Thomas Abraham:
“We are very, very concerned. We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from human to human. If international spread is confirmed, that meets WHO’s criteria for raising the pandemic alert level.”
Yet a Reuters story points out that all eight confirmed cases in the the US have recovered, with CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat adding:
“We don’t think this is time for major concern around the country.”
With these two organizations unable to agree on the degree of concern, I would suggest as a precaution, this might be a good time to educate ourselves as much as possible in the event this outbreak does ultimately warrant the concern.
Let’s begin by answering the question, “What IS the Swine Flu?” The CDC has excellent information on this. Start here.
Next, let’s take a look at the known FACTS in this matter as of this date:
- Mexico seems to be the point of origin of the outbreak and the Mexican government was slow to respond as evidence now suggests that the outbreak began back in March. That has given the disease a chance to spread to places like the US without our knowledge. For what it’s worth, this would also suggest it was already spreading throughout Mexico City when President Obama was there less than two weeks ago.
- According to a report by the Associated Press, up to 81 people in Mexico have already died and 1,324 have likely been sickened since April 13th.
- Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC, said in an interview Friday that it’s too late to contain the outbreak in the United States.
- There have now been eight confirmed cases in numerous locations around the United States including the Northeast. All 8 cases have recovered.
For now, I would highly suggest keeping an eye on your local and national news as well as news blogs. We will update as news develops on this story. At the moment we seem to be talking about its potential rather than the actual damage it could do, but this is probably a good time for us to gather as much knowledge as possible to prevent the spreading — or catching — of this disease, should it penetrate our geographic region.
What Can I Do To Protect Myself & Family?
Now is the time to EDUCATE YOURSELF on this disease. Start here:
Some basic hygiene ideas (these should done naturally, but so many people today lack both common sense and courtesy):
- Cover your mouth when you ca ugh or sneeze. Do not cough or sneeze directly on your hand, if possible, but into your sleeve, handkerchief or Kleenex. As soon as possible afterwards, WASH YOUR HANDS!
- Avoid direct contact like shaking hands or kissing on the mouth if possible.
- Avoid public restrooms whenever possible.
- Avoid large crowds like concerts, casinos, sporting events (during any kind of outbreak as these are excellent places to become exposed).
- When possible, avoid restaurants or other food venues where you cannot see your food being prepared.
Make hot links to your most reliable sources of information on this topic. Here’s a few to get you started:
- Center for Disease Control (CDC): www.cdc.gov
- World Health Organization, International Web Site (in English): http://www.who.int/en/
While I’m concerned whenever a story like this surfaces, I think it’s important to keep ALL aspects of things in perspective. There’s another crucial point to make here. As Michelle Malkin points out, maybe now both political parties may revisit the concept of actually protecting our borders instead of leaving them wide open for the potentially sick to pass through completely unchecked, subjecting more of our own citizens to the disease.
Oh, and I’ll bet it must feel just wonderful being in a “Sanctuary City” right about now, eh?