Swine Flu alarm raised to nincompoop

There it is, health crisis confirmed. Today the WHO raised the pandemic alert level to five. Confirmed cases of Swine Flu H1N1 have now spread to ten countries and our health is in the hands of idiots. Conniving idiots. This morning President Obama announced the dreaded first US fatality, but declined to reveal specifics out of a concern for patient confidentiality. Through the day we learned that the US death wasn’t exactly representative of an accelerated infection rate. In reality the Swine Flu victim was a Mexican 23-month-old who’d been brought to the US for treatment. However, when CDC director Dr. Richard Besser was interviewed for the evening news, the alarm theme turned once again on the virus’s escalation with the death of the American child in Texas.

Though so far the US victims have suffered only mild cases, the CDC concludes on 4/29/2009:

“The more recent illnesses and the reported death suggest that a pattern of more severe illness associated with this virus may be emerging in the U.S.”

I find it loathsome that Right Wing Nuts are pointing the finger at Mexican immigrants, and I’m in favor of our hospitals attempting to help whoever they can. But I don’t think it’s fair to pretend that someone afflicted in Mexico, who comes to the US, should be counted as an example of the Swine Flu having spread within the US.

Wasn’t Barack Obama supposed to herald the expunging of at least the facade of duplicity from our policy makers? We do not want to close the US-Mexico border, we say, because it’s already too late, implying concern for relations with Mexican nationals. But hasn’t the border permanently closed to them already? It’s fortified by Minutemen vigilantes in fact? No, leaving the border open has everything to do with the products which US corporations are now producing in Mexico, both agricultural and industrial.

I have to admit I’m not surprised at the lies, there are innumerable reasons to obfuscate the truth, from protecting the pork industry, to boosting shareholder investment in pharmaceutical stock. But I didn’t expect the charade to be so incompetent.

Dr. Besser went on to repeat the instructions with which we are meant to arm ourselves against the pandemic. Are you comforted any by the “duck and cover” advice they have to offer? What to do in the even of a pandemic: 1) wash your hands often, 2) cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, 3) stay home if you feel sick –I’ll interrupt to point out the obvious, this is not advice for staying well, it’s advice for not contaminating others with what you have– and 4) stay away from sick people. Is that how the health experts make themselves useful?

And what sick people might those be?

The other farcical component to this Keystone Docs epidemic is what’s passing for a description of the “flu.” Black Plague victims didn’t know what they were up against, and apparently neither do we. To my mind it would help immeasurably to know what exactly is the ailment. Oh, you know, flu-like symptoms, basically like the common cold, or a headache or sore throat, or mono or strep or a nondescript uneasy feeling, with a fever. When it comes to defining the flu, it’s as if medical science is in the Dark Age.

I omitted the last instruction: 5) If you think you might be ill, see your doctor.

Now, how many of us have doctors we can see, or are prompted to visit a doctor about a headache or a sore throat? I’m convinced that if this epidemic sweeps through before we can even guard our sneezes, it will be because few have access to medical help. Infections will go largely unreported because there’s no one to make a record of your ailment before the issue is settled about what insurance coverage you have. In El Paso County, budget cutbacks have left only a skeleton crew at the county health department. No one’s left to do the work of surveying the public health in these parts.

That is to say, the only agencies with manpower left, and the only health care generally available to the American public, are the morgues. That’s where and when this pandemic will be charted, if it materializes.

Thanks to Tamiflu, we may just avert the phantom menace entirely.

2 thoughts on “Swine Flu alarm raised to nincompoop

  1. AvatarDiann

    Not that I don’t agree with your assessment of America’s healthcare system, Eric, but here is a more complete description of the symptoms and the warning signs that may or may not require treatment from the CDC website. Methinks, you were just a little harsh on Dr. Besser, as there really are no other ways of fighting it’s transmission. I mean, it IS a flu for goodness sakes. We all know what those symptoms are. Fever is always the main indicator that someone is really ill, as usual. And it’s Spring. Not your usual flu season. So, if you get these symptoms now or within the month, well, my guess is that you might have H1N1 virus.

    And lest we forget, even though the US certainly has more to lose concerning trade over the border, Mexico, as well, has a large and growing exportation of all kinds of goods to the US and relies heavily on our economy for their sustainability. The effect of closing the border would be devastating for both sides.

    From the CDC website:
    What should I do if I get sick?
    If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

    If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

    If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

    In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

    * Fast breathing or trouble breathing
    * Bluish skin color
    * Not drinking enough fluids
    * Not waking up or not interacting
    * Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
    * Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
    * Fever with a rash

    In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

    * Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    * Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
    * Sudden dizziness
    * Confusion
    * Severe or persistent vomiting

  2. EricEric

    Diann, thank you for the critical specifics. I assure you that despite our skepticism and incredulity aimed at the health policy talking heads, M & I are undertaking very sober efforts to stay prepared.

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