There is a debate raging through the country as to whether the pig flu is a scary plague of DOOM, or merely a bunch of media hype. The answer, I believe, lies in part at one end of the spectrum, and in part at the other. If you watch the media lately, they seem to have switched sides to try to calm the public. This is never a good sign.
The good news is that the pig flu is responding to treatment. It isn’t cutting a swath of death and destruction, now that we know what it is. That’s where the good news ends.
The bad pig flu news is that it is already spreading worldwide. It isn’t just something passed from pigs to people, it also goes from people to people, and likely from bird to bird, bird to human, etc. I really believe it is far past the point of eradication. Due to immune overreaction, it strikes the strong the hardest. Keep in mind that the purple dots on this map are confirmed cases. By the time a case of pig flu is confirmed, it generally has been in a person’s system for a few days, and then after they manage to see a doctor, it tends to take several more days to confirm. What I’m saying is that this map is lagging. This is a snapshot of the pig flu as it existed nearly a week ago. I think it is worth keeping an eye on, because most of us will likely get it, if not this year, then next, or the year after.
Our primary adversary in this isn’t the piggy flu, it is fear, and the overreaction in the populace. It isn’t the media’s fault. We don’t need their help to panic. The worry here isn’t riot, it is economic. If we shut the schools, restaurants, and other workplaces in fear of influenza, the loss of wages will push those who are already teetering in this tough economy over the edge. We need to try to slow the progression by social distancing, without shutting everything down.
What we need the public to understand is that there is a flu going around. We can treat it, but not immunize (yet) against it. It is a nasty flu, but not likely deadly. It is a time to be wary rather than fearful or dismissive.
Latest numbers 06-08-09: 25,288 cases, 139 deaths.