Swine Flu and Appocolypse

Hurray! We have been a bit low on end of the world news lately. Finally we have some good fodder to scare little children.

The US has declared a public health emergency! Send in some clowns, lets have a parade, and party hardy! Doomsayers unite in celebration.

But of course we are talking about the fourth horse of the Apocalypse. Usually called ashen but at times I've read green. It is the final of four. It is a winner of an apocalyptic vision.

The ashen horse sounds very nasty. It brings death with swords, famine, pestilence and wild beasts. Crikey!

If you don’t die from a gaping sword wound, he starves you. If you don’t starve, you get a deadly disease. If the disease does not kill you quick enough, how about pestilence, which we can only guess is ultra nasty like the Black Plague? If that's not enough, then some animal is going to eat you!

Why even have the other horsemen when you have this guy. The other horsemen are just an opening act to warm up the audience.

Swine flu is just part of the forth horseman's job. It is in the news, so let's look closer at this as a flu pandemic.

Bird flu is scary only because it spreads via birds. Generic Swine Flu is not scary because pigs are rather lazy and don’t travel business class.

People live with their pigs and pigs are very close to us genetically. So most bugs that will kill a pig, will kill us. Add the conditions of pig farms that would help a nasty bug grow, and you get a flu that could kill billions. The bigger of the pandemics killed millions. They were all swine flu.

As I write this, lots of people are already dead in Mexico from this deadly strain. You might be reading this a bit late to buy a surgical mask, but that’s how a blog works. If this is the beginning of the end, well… I suggest you subscribe to this blog now so that you get a little quicker warning... should you survive.

Have you ever been on a plane and not be allowed to get off because someone was sick? I have.

On a trip be between Japan and Dallas, we found that a few people were very ill. Paramedics in gloves and masks entered the plane and examined the possible carriers of nasty disease. Lucky for us, they could not pin it down to something nasty. They did offer to take the entire plane to the hospital if they felt compromised. Really!

You don’t see it often, but quarantines happens a lot. Sadly this usually it is just blind luck if we catch Typhoid Mary traveling in coach. The problem is incubation.

Pandemics don’t just happen. They require a lot of travel, long incubation times, and be easy to transmit.

Incubation is the time from when you get infected to the time you are infectious. One issue with many diseases is that they don’t seem deadly until you are showing signs of dying. The usual course for a killer flu is feeling like you have a cold, then the flu, and then you get really bad and croak.

Because the flu starts out feeling like a cold, you go to work, school, and attend events like football games. Simply, you don’t feel too bad about giving the rest of the world the sniffles.

Our whole society works this way. Germs are invisible, so we don’t know we are spreading them. Sickness is also a fact of life. Unless you can’t get out of bed, we get out of bed and spread our germ infested snot to the four corners of the world.

With the long incubation, most defenses are too little, and too late. You are sneezing before you know that the pandemic is out there.

Things can get worse if there is a vaccine. Where are the biggest crowds of sick people? Standing in line to get a vaccine. Wear a mask and wash your hands!

Another problem with the flu is that it often targets the old and the young for death. Seems fine if you are 25 and healthy, right? Problem is that people in their 60’s think they are 25 with a few aches and gray hairs.

There are some tricks to avoid getting sick during a pandemic. Don’t get within 50 feet of anyone. Don’t touch anything. Wear a surgical mask at all times. Just imagine the world is made up of snot. Wash your hands twenty-five times a day. Maybe the world will end, but you will safely starve to death in the safety of your germ free world.

One last thought. If this is a public health emergency, what about the private sector?

Funny, but please take note

Seriously, the public health emergency is real. The comment about immunizations is sort of a joke. Immunizations can save lives. I would still wear a mask and wash my hands.

CORRECTION: This strain of flu has yet to pan out. While you hear of deaths from this strain, the good old fashioned flu has been quietly killing thousands. Isn't media hype wonderful?

Here are a couple of links:

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