We May All Die From Swine Flu

Illustration for article titled We May All Die From Swine Flu

Forget avian flu; a "swine flu" that's already killed eighteen people in Mexico seems to have come to the US, and the World Health Organization are discussing whether or not to declare it a pandemic.

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The virus may be called a "swine flu," but it mixes genes from pig, bird and human flus in a manner that the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention is calling "very unusual." There have been over 900 suspected cases in Mexico, with 18 confirmed deaths from it, and now scientists have identified cases in San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego, California that are "genetically identical" to 12 of those deaths. The disease presents with similar symptoms to a common flu, and can be passed between humans, leading to a WHO statement on Friday about the virus:

Because there are human cases associated with an animal influenza virus, and because of the geographical spread of multiple community outbreaks, plus the somewhat unusual age groups affected, these events are of high concern.

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Currently, scientists are studying those who've contracted the virus in Texas and California, and using the data they gather there to calculate whether or not a pandemic should be declared. Me, I'm now hoping that my Walgreens flu shot has unforeseen magical properties.

Deadly new flu virus in US and Mexico may go pandemic [New Scientist]

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DISCUSSION

triplanetary-old
Triplanetary

Some of the posts in this thread are hilarious. Naturally anytime a new virus of whatever pops up, you get your crowd of "pssh, this is just fearmongering, I'm not going to panic" twits. Well, I have bad news for you and your faux-tough attitude: nobody's telling you to panic. The CDC and WHO have expressed reasonable - not panic-ridden - concerns over a particular event, which they're then following (which is called being responsible).

I have further bad news for you, and that is that you're definitely not smarter than the CDC's and WHO's scientists. You can pull out all the statistics and historical precedents you want, and draw half-informed conclusions based on them, but ultimately you're implying that the professionals haven't thought of all this (thank goodness a random Internet user is here to open our eyes!) and sadly for you, they have.

I don't know why some of you reject out of hand any notion of large-scale threat. Maybe it's because Hollywood has conditioned you to think that large-scale threats involve entire cities exploding and tidal waves washing away continents and shit. Well, it doesn't work like that in real life, which is probably why some of you, despite melting glaciers and entire oceanic dead zones, think that global warming isn't a threat because New York isn't underwater yet.