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US Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the man-bird-pig dept.

Medicine 695

mallumax sends word from the NYTimes that US government officials today declared a public health emergency over increasing cases of the swine flu first seen in Mexico. Here is additional coverage from CNN. From the Times: "American health officials [say]... that they had confirmed 20 cases of the disease in the United States and expected to see more as investigators fan out to track down the path of the outbreak. Other governments around the world stepped up their response to the incipient outbreak, racing to contain the infection amid reports of potential new cases from New Zealand to Hong Kong to Spain, raising concerns about the potential for a global pandemic. The cases in US looked to be similar to the deadly strain of swine flu that has killed more than 80 people in Mexico and infected 1,300 more." Reader "The man who walks in the woods" sends a link to accounts emailed to the BBC from readers in Mexico. While these are anecdotal, they do paint a picture of a more serious situation than government announcements have indicated so far.

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first post? (-1, Offtopic)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723143)

/??? maybe?

Re:first post? (-1, Offtopic)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723161)

OK that was about as lame as I thought it would be. :-D

Re:first post? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723169)

Q - What illness caused the pig to fly?

A - Swine flu.

Das Svine Flu! (-1, Offtopic)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723149)

Sorry. It just seems like something some crazy guy should be screaming about with a German accent...

Swine flu (-1, Redundant)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723175)

and the upcoming global pandemic.

Is this flu really "special"? (1, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723185)

The flu kills thousands of people every year. Why does this one have a special name? I can't decide how scared to be. As if there were anything I could do about it anyways.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (5, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723239)

Those thousands that die are among hundreds of thousands or more who get infected. This strain has infected far fewer people, yet killed more of them, so the mortality rate is much higher.

If infection became widespread, as was the case in 1918, then we could be looking at serious losses.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (5, Informative)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723401)

Quoted from Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]

The 1918 flu pandemic (commonly referred to as the Spanish flu) was an influenza pandemic that spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually virulent and deadly Influenza A virus strain of subtype H1N1. Historical and epidemiologic data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin of the virus.[1] Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise weakened patients. The pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 100 million people were killed worldwide.

While we, at least industrialized countries, are far better equipped to deal with another major outbreak than in 1918; I feel taking precautions would be the rational thing to do.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723561)

Less idiots on cell phones to rear-end me at stop lights! This could be GOOD news!

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723251)

Trouble is "the flu" isn't really a single entity. There are numerous different strains, with different behavior, different preferred hosts, and different degrees of lethality. This one is rather worse than the usual.

Adding to the nuisance, is the fact that flu strains can swap components with one another to produce exotic variants quickly. Pigs are excellent for that, because they have their own strains, and some degree of susceptibility to certain avian and human strains.

It might well burn itself out; but it would be a pity if it were the start of Spanish flu 2.0 (now with high speed air travel!).

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723319)

If it travels through china and south america, we'll all be better off. If it hits the islamic countries, and kills a bunch, I'll start believing in god.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (0, Redundant)

knappe duivel (914316) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723361)

that is a new low, even for you, mr coward

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723399)

hello, it is not necesarily a good thing if people in mexico get this. Notice that coming in from mexico at the "checkpoints", people are asked questions about their symptoms. How can you detain them wetbacks (only the illegal ones mind you should be insulted) when they bypass the checkpoints all together

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723513)

china

There are a few upsides to such locked-down regimes.
Chiefly: easier to control population movements, so it can't spread as far.

south america

Don't they have their own exotic diseases to worry about?

islamic countries

Less likely than China. Personal contact is already kept at a minimum.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (0)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723263)

This influenza virus is a strain that utilizes pig, bird, and human genetic information. Also this is the first recorded time Swine flu has passed from human to human.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723287)

> This influenza virus is a strain that utilizes pig, bird, and human genetic information.

This influenza virus is a strain that utilizes pig, bird, and human influenza genetic information.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723353)

Also this is the first recorded time Swine flu has passed from human to human.

Nope [cdc.gov]

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (3, Interesting)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723537)

wasn't 1918 flu a swine flu ? Isn't this also similar to the 1918 flu in that it overwhelms the immune response in healthy young people, leading to mortality being higher in younger healthier people than the elderly ?

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (5, Interesting)

etymxris (121288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723269)

Yes, this flu is different. It is primarily killing young healthy adults. It looks to work the same way as the 1918 flu, killing those with the healthiest immune systems through the "cytokine storm".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:W_curve.png [wikipedia.org]

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723581)

With this cytokine storm, would intentionally weakening the immune system then increase the chance of survival? From what I've read, it seems both sugar and alcohol would have an immediate weakening effect on the immune system. So if infected: lots of sugar and alcohol?

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (4, Funny)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723615)

Immediately buy stock in Anheiser-Busch and Dunkin Donuts...

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723275)

> Why does this one have a special name?

a) It is genetically different from the usual flus.
b) In 1918 a form of swine flu killed millions.

> I can't decide how scared to be.

So far it seems to kill only Mexicans. I suppose you could construct a conspiracy theory around that.

> As if there were anything I could do about it anyways.

Avoid people. They're dangerous.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (4, Insightful)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723297)

The flu kills thousands of people every year. Why does this one have a special name?

So far it seems to have a 5% mortality rate, which is above normal. Usually mortality is 5% of those hospitalized, rather than 5% of all. Of course, the stats are from small numbers that are very new, so we'll have to wait for better information. It's certainly worth paying attention to though.

I can't decide how scared to be. As if there were anything I could do about it anyways.

If everyone would make an extra effort to wash their hands, cover their nose/mouth when coughing, and stay the f*** home from work/school when you are sick, that would help. If you can slow the spread, researchers can get a better understanding of the flu and how to treat it before everyone gets sick.

Avian flu still seems much worse though, since it has a much higher mortality rate, in particular among the young. It doesn't seem to be able to spread as fast though, thus the concern about this new flu.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (4, Interesting)

bornwaysouth (1138751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723501)

I live in New Zealand, which now has (as far as we can test) a Swine flu outbreak among kids returning from a Mexican school trip. Basically, it seems under control due to competent home hygiene, plus intense medical supervision. So, yes it does spread fast. And for those of you who can't find New Zealand on a map. Don't worry about that, a pandemic will find you.

What is really valuable about this is that it looks to be a fairly safe, almost ideal model for the real thing. A test for how competently a pandemic is managed locally. Listening to the news this morning (we are 16 hours ahead of the US), our authorities seem to have concentrated all their efforts in micromanaging the school threat, and ignored contamination of everyone else on the plane. Provided the officials stay inside the school, they should be safe.

Personally, I'd prefer a bunch of veterinarians running it who aren't allowed to shoot and burn. At least they have a holistic approach. However, I'm getting old and cynical. Younger people seem to prefer touchy-feely sorry-about-the-megadeaths administrators.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723369)

Others have mentioned the rather high (apparent) mortality rate (the numbers are quite thin at this point). Another factor increasing the attention is that the flu season is usually over by now.

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (5, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723413)

If you'd take a little time to read about it... yes, it's 'really' special.

I'm not saying "ZOMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE"-special - we're not, as it is, many of those infected happily survive.

Let's start with 'the flu', though.. There is no 'the flu'. Influenza is a big ol' family of viruses.

This one - although it baffles me why the media latched onto 'swine' as their name for it, maybe the pork industry lobbied strongly against naming it 'pork' or 'pig' flu - is one of the mutations of form H1N1 ('bird flu' was H5N1; H and N refer to certain protein types). That only tells part of the story as there's multiple H1N1s with different aminoacids and whatnot, like yea olde Spanish flu (yeah, the proper pandemic one) was H1N1 as well. There's the first 'special' bit; it shares a name with the Spanish flu.

Won't go into details about how it differs from Spanish flu - suffice it to say that this particular strain of H1N1 influenza appears to be a mixture of porcine, bird and human flu viruses' RNA. From there comes the second 'special' bit. It's 'rare' that the flu jumps species from pigs to humans in general, even rarer for it to thrive, but even more rare that it appears to spread between humans.

Now for the third special bit... even H5N1 - that other 'big scare' - mostly affected the (really) young, the elderly, and the weak in terms of severity. This one, however, seems to just as happily make young healthy adults sick.

That's why it deserves its own little name. As for how scared you should be:
'Swine' flu responds well to the relatively recent anti-flu drug Oseltamivir (marketing name: Tamiflu). That is to say, it gets killed pretty quickly and eradicated from the body if treatment is followed through (yeah, I know, right?). That's good news for the producers of Tamiflu who love having this in the news, and for their shareholders who saw their stock skyrocket as a result. It's pretty special that there's tons of people out there just waiting around to make money off of this kind of thing.
Oh, and it's also good news for those infected, of course.

Unfortunately, Tamiflu (and others) are prescribed willy-nilly as seasonal flu drugs (despite the CDC advising against it; like 'advice' matters if there's a mint to be made), making it all the more likely that more resistant strains will pop up in due time.
At the same time, being a relatively recent drug, not all of the side-effects are fully known and understood yet.

As for what you can do about it...
- I wouldn't plan a trip to Mexico and go frolic with any pigs if I were you.
- I wouldn't swap spit/etc. with any of the students already diagnosed as being possibly infected.
- If you are infected with any type of flu.. cover your mouth when sneezing/coughing, wash hands regularly. Won't do much for you, but it'll help prevent spreading of it.

Speaking of the CDC.. they have some pretty decent pages up as well:
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/general_info.htm [cdc.gov]

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723429)

I was in Mexico for most of March. We all got sick - a bout of D & V, fatigue, sometimes fever or coughing. Everyone has some combination of these symptoms, sleeps a lot, feels better, feels worse again, slowly recovers. Some people get it immediately, some take a few weeks.
My wife was worried about the children, apparently the emergency departments in Mexico are wall-to-wall children being IV'd for dehydration. I bought a dozen bottles of gatorade and dished them out - nobody wants the stuff when they feel lousy, but when they start to pick up they'll knock it back - I put away two large bottles in half an hour.
I wasn't ever very concerned - we were all sick, but I'm a parent and I've seen worse. If you're worried call your doctor, but don't panic just because other people are sick. If your kids tell you they feel lousy, comfort them. If they're seriously groggy or unresponsive, have them looked at.
My best advice is to leave the bathroom door wide open, the light on and the seat up - the younger ones need any help they can get. Keep buckets by the beds, have lots of towels to clean up accidents, stock up on whatever they think is a treat to drink, take your time and don't panic, just ride it out.
Oh - if someone in your house has it, you all will. If you have kids, have someone who will come and take care of them when you get it. You can do the same for them later.

Augustus

I wouldn't particularly worry (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723471)

Do all the normal prudent things like wash your hands plenty, try not to stand next to the guy coughing up a lung, etc. Keep up on the situation on the CDC's website, not on random places like Slashdot. The reason is that the Internet has a LOT of doomsdayers, if you haven't noticed. They are always after the next thing that's going to fuck us over. The one I remember most recently was when there were stories of cable cuts in mid east, doomsdayers said this meant the US was going to invade Iran in a couple days, Bush would declare marshal law, and the election would be suspended. Ya well, we all see how much of that happened.

So get your info from a reliable source. The CDC is interested in keeping people safe and stopping the spread of this (and all other) disease. They are also staffed with experts. People on random forums often have no idea what the fuck they are talking about, like to blow things up, and predict the end of the world every other month.

Only thing special to do maybe is make sure you've got flu food. By that I mean things like chicken noodle soup and such. If you get sick you probably aren't going to feel like shopping (and shouldn't go shopping since you don't want to spread your sickness) and you also aren't likely to feel like eating pizza and such.

Be concerned (0)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723483)

U do not have to be scared. It would not help anyways. But be concerned. Why? This virus is a new one. It has genes from Swine, Human, AND AVIAN. The swine part is NOT that big of a deal. The problem is the human target (ease of spreading between humans) combined with the AVIAN. Right now, the ppl that have died are ALL between 20-40. ALL have been healthy. Only the avian flu has such characteristic. If this spreads amongst nations, things could get "interesting".

Re:Is this flu really "special"? (5, Interesting)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723517)

The flu kills thousands of people every year. Why does this one have a special name?.

Flu usually kills the very old and the very young. From what I have read, this one is different; it kills young and healthy persons, a segment that rarely dies from normal flu. The so called Spanish Flu (or Grippe) from around the first world war had a very similar fatality pattern. Since that pandemic attack killed at least 50 million people around the world it is clear that this new flu must be taken very, very seriously. There doesn't seem to be that much hard evidence around regarding the symptoms though; does it attack the lungs in the same way as the Grippe? It appears that the Grippe turned peoples own immune system against themselves which is why young healthy persons with good immune systems died in such large numbers and often so violently fast.

From what little info I have seen it appears that this swine Flu attack and kills some young and healthy persons, while other victims have very mild symptoms; that is the exact same pattern as the first major wave of the Grippe. According to some researchers this attack pattern caused the Grippe virus strain to be refined to the extremely deadly strain it was when it attacked again. Some victims died within an hour of having the first symptoms, and people would literally drop dead without warning while walking in the streets, pupils in classrooms would suddenly fall over their desk dead.

--
Regards

OMG! We're all gonna die!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723187)

Possibly sooner now!!!

God damn... (4, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723213)

...Mexican swines!

Re:God damn... (3, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723249)

...Mexican swines!

Isn't 'swine' both singular and plural, like 'deer'?

Re:God damn... (5, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723317)

Not if you want god to damn them all.

You want them all damned - you say swines just to make sure.
Or he might damn just one swine and then where would we be? Back at square one, that's where.

Re:God damn... (4, Funny)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723427)

Not if you want god to damn them all.

You want them all damned - you say swines just to make sure. Or he might damn just one swine and then where would we be? Back at square one, that's where.

GCC (God's Communication Compiler) Compiling...
Error Line 1: Unrecognized token 'swines'

That doesn't seem very intelligent to me (4, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723523)

Design that is.

Re:That doesn't seem very intelligent to me (5, Funny)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723585)

Eh, its not so bad once you learn the syntax. It's amazing how many people believe God doesn't listen to their prayers, when all they had to do was perform some simple debugging. Alternatively, I hear you can pray in python now, though its significantly less responsive.

Re:God damn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723365)

Why do we need those exceptions? It's never too late to fix arcane English idiosyncrasies.

How are those open borders now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723515)

Ahh the Open Borders crowd much be thrilled.

Well now we have Mexican viruses infecting people American viruses won't infect.

Wonderful (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723219)

I can't wait till someone comes in my pharmacy and coughs this all over me. /pharmacist

Not necessarily over-reacting (5, Insightful)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723227)

It would be easy to think that the government is just over-reacting to this swine flu, and they might be (that was my first impression), but it is better to over-react than to under-react and end up with a huge world-wide influenza epidemic such as occurred in 1918. Making the public slightly paranoid can help prevent the spread of the flu.

Re:Not necessarily over-reacting (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723271)

You have a good point, but remember the boy who cried wolf.

Re:Not necessarily over-reacting (5, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723473)

I caught a few minutes of a press conference on CNN. Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security started it by saying something to the effect of 'this makes things sound worse than they are, but it allows us to activate public health resources'.

So perhaps the vocabulary is poor, but the reaction doesn't really resemble crying wolf.

Re:Not necessarily over-reacting (1)

gordguide (307383) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723349)

" ... but it is better to over-react than to under-react and end up with a huge world-wide influenza epidemic such as occurred in 1918. ..."

And that epidemic was caused by ... wait for it ... swine flu.

Actually... (2, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723477)

Making the public slightly paranoid can help prevent the spread of the flu.

You would get your resources wasted and your hospitals swarmed with everyone who feels a bit tired or has a cough.
And there is no better place to catch a disease than a crowded hospital.
Well... except maybe going for a swim in the local sewer.

From the TFA:

Officials said they had confirmed eight cases in New York, seven in California, two in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio, and that the cases looked to be similar to the deadly strain of swine flu that has killed more than 80 people in Mexico and infected 1,300 more.

So far, there have been no deaths from swine flu in the United States, and only one of the people who tested positive for the disease has been hospitalized, officials said.

19 people out of 306 million found to have something like the disease that has killed 80 in Mexico.
1 of those 19 was actually kept in the hospital while others were sent home.

Also...

In the United States, the C.D.C. confirmed that eight students of a high school in Queens had been infected with swine flu, the first confirmed cases in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference on Sunday. Mr. Bloomberg said that all of the cases had been mild and hospitals in the city had not seen more patients with severe lung infections.
.
.
About 100 students at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens, became sick in the last few days, and some family members have also taken ill. Mr. Bloomberg said the school would be closed on Monday, and that officials would then reassess whether to reopen the school.

Yes... those 8 cases are all from that school.
Note the numbers.
8 people actually sick. 100+ immediately think that they are going to die. 0 of them hospitalized.

Google FluTrend (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723237)

According to Google flutrends (http://www.google.org/flutrends), Flu activity is still LOW.

Re:Google FluTrend (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723503)

At this time, it is low. OTH, if the current vaccine does not work against it, then we are likely to see that trend change. And most likely this week.

Options (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723247)

Once again, the viagra + hooker idea seems a sensible plan.

What's next? (3, Funny)

ingo23 (848315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723255)

First it was bird flu, now it's swine flu.

What's next - flying pig flu?

Re:What's next? (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723307)

Well this flu does have an avian part to it already. So I think the next one will be even crazier. Maybe we can get some sort of fish flu?

Re:What's next? (4, Informative)

gordguide (307383) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723551)

Chickens, Pigs, and Humans. In some parts of the world, they are in close proximity to each other.
The influenza variants that can attack either of these three animals are very similar to each other, but not identical.
So, normally a bird flu only affects birds, for example.
However, flu viruses are extremely mutagenic, and in reality mutate constantly.
A problem with flu vaccines is they must be made from a strain that exists in early summer (to have time to make enough) but there is a strong chance that the virus will have mutated enough by the winter that the vaccine is not as effective, or has no effectiveness.
Every once in a while, because of the similarity, a mutation will happen that allows that particular strain to cross a barrier; a bird flu might mutate into one that can infect pigs, for example.
Or a swine flu may mutate to one that can infect humans. Since it is a new strain, no-one has antibodies to fight it.
The 1918/1919 strain killed between 2 and 20% of those infected. A normal flu fatality rate is about 0.1%.
Similarly, the 1918/1919 strain tended to fell healthy adults under 65 with a majority between 20 and 40, and not those under 2 or over 70 who comprise the majority of more ordinary strains' fatal victims. It is this tendency that is most alarming with the current outbreak.
A mutation of the 1918/1919 variant is called "swine flu" and is common in pigs today. That particular strain cannot infect humans. It was previously believed that the 1918/1919 strain was originally a swine flu, but recent research suggests it mutated from a bird flu. No one really knows for sure, however.
The country that best handled the risk in 1918/1919 was Japan, who issued strict travel limits, and had a mortality rate of just over twice the normal at 0.425%. Island nations who did not do so suffered fatality rates of 5% and more.

Yawn (-1, Troll)

Starvingboy (964130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723257)

Yawn. Just another "Disaster of the week" the news outlets are hyping to boost their ratings. I'll be concerned when it becomes more than nervous hand wringing by the talking heads.

bathroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723393)

Hey, yo, go into the bathroom and stare into the mirror. See that? That's an idiot. You and that other idiot, that alleged epidemiologist from yesterday who thought it wasn't a big deal and it is just "normal" and that people are just "fear mongering" need to get together and have your own idiots fan club. I predict both of you will be crying like little girls and shitting your pants when you finally realize it's real and it isn't just some "normal" little joke flu.

Re:Yawn (5, Insightful)

Daswolfen (1277224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723449)

it may be 'disaster of the week' for you, but to those of us who can pay attention for more than 5 minutes will see the direct correlation between this and the 1918 epidemic that killed 50 million people world wide.

The 1918 flu was theorized to have started in Kansas around March 4th. By March 11th it was spread as far as New York City. In weeks, it had mutated into a more virulent strain that went on to kill more people than WWI had. It had killed an estimated 20 million people in 25 weeks, and that was without global air travel.

I hope that this is just a minor incident and a false alarm, but since it has already proven to be resistant to the first two of the four major flu anti-virals (the neuraminidase inhibitors - Tamiflu and Relenza are the ones that seem to be effective so far), that in and of itself is cause for concern.

And if 80+ dead in 1000+ cases worldwide so far(and they are mostly healthy and young) are not more than 'nervous hand wringing' to you, then you are a fool. Add to that, is the fact that it has spread globally in a few days, spreads person to person rather easily and the chances of finding patient zero in a place like Mexico is going to be near impossible, makes this appear to be something that is more than 'nervous hand wringing by the talking heads'

Re:Yawn (1)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723527)

"The 1918 flu was theorized to have started in Kansas around March 4th. By March 11th it was spread as far as New York City. In weeks, it had mutated into a more virulent strain that went on to kill more people than WWI had. It had killed an estimated 20 million people in 25 weeks, and that was without global air travel."

Specifically, it was Fort Riley, Kansas and it spread to Europe thanks to troops deployed for World War I, which is where it got nicknamed "Spanish flu". You mention global air travel but I submit that air travel doesn't involve sharing an entire ship full of passengers for a cross Atlantic trip that could take 8-9 days to several weeks.

Re:Yawn (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723533)

"And if 80+ dead in 1000+ cases worldwide so far(and they are mostly healthy and young) are not more than 'nervous hand wringing' to you, then you are a fool."

Except, um, no-one knows how many people caught this flu and had no serious problems, just like the majority of people infected outside Mexico. For all we know a million people caught it, a thousand became seriously sick and eighty died.

American experience seems to show that only a small fraction of people are seriously sick, and Mexican experience seems to show that a small fraction of the seriously sick die. Trying to extrapolate those figures into Doomsday scenarios is silly at this point.

Re:Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723589)

You've been paying attention since 1918? You must be old and wise.

with any luck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723267)

this hopefully will infect the open source faggots and they'll all die.

Pigs in Spaaaaccceeee! (3, Funny)

volxdragon (1297215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723281)

Why is it that every time I hear "swine flu", I think this is nothing more than a really old rerun of the muppet show....maybe Gonzo will show up and save us all!

Bring out your dead (1, Redundant)

CrAlt (3208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723283)

The end is near!

Yawn.....Seriously (0, Flamebait)

Neptunes_Trident (1452997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723295)

Here are my thoughts and actions. No I will not spend money or take your vaccine. No I am not afraid of a "pandemic" to many idiots here anyway. No I will not buy into this psychological fear mongering everyone loves to push on people. I don't believe in what anyone says much anyhow. Now how many takers do I have who in spite of what I think and feel are angry and want to control me somehow? Write a law, call the karma police? Lets see.

Google mashup? (2, Insightful)

mork (62099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723299)

So how long before we see a mashup of Google Maps and flu stats showing outbreak areas?

Re:Google mashup? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723321)

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=p&msa=0&msid=106484775090296685271.0004681a37b713f6b5950&source=embed&ll=17.14079,-45.175781&spn=114.994624,178.59375&z=3

Re:Google mashup? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723351)

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=p&msa=0&msid=106484775090296685271.0004681a37b713f6b5950&ll=32.639375,-110.390625&spn=15.738151,25.488281&z=5);

Re:Google mashup? (4, Informative)

Rigrig (922033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723445)

Something like this [pigflumap.com] you mean?

Bacon: the viral killer (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723331)

OVER 60 MILLION GOT SERVED, Mexico, Friday (NNN) — A new strain of swine flu, H1N1, has killed up to 60 people in Mexico.

The virus is a mixture of swine, bird, human and computer viruses [today.com] . Symptoms include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, popup ads, coughing, sore throat, a slow connection and an urge to throw one's computer out of a high window. The disease is thought to have started as a Windows virus on 4chan, a CIA entrapment message board for online activists, and can spread using the current Windows 7 beta.

Center for Disease Control officials looked at their huge stockpiles of H5N1 bird flu vaccine and said, "... shit."

Citizens have panicked at the prospect of bacon being put into quarantine and substituted with some soy-based shit. "Damn that Conficker!" shouted R. MacDonald of San Bernardino, California. "Damn it all to Hell!"

"This comment from me looks photoshopped," said Bruce Schneier, an American computer security expert safely employed over in the UK. "I can tell by the pixels and having seen a lot of shops in my time. I suspect this is the work of a viral botnet spider agent replicating Trojan comments across news services until their functionality is completely destroyed. WHATEVER YOU, DO DON'T LOAD OR READ MY COMMENT. p.s.: I love you."

Insufferably smug Macintosh user Arty Phagge was sanguine. "We know how to use condoms. And I'm a vegetarian." The Free Software Foundation announced the launch of OpenSwine, a disease generation and detection kit available for all to use and develop in perpetuity.

Britain will be protected from the swine flu virus by comprehensive filtering of the British internet, shutting it down entirely as needed. "Would you want your husbands, your servants, accessing the Internet?" asked Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. "I put it to you that you would not."

Re:Bacon: the viral killer (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723391)

Do these things actually drive an appreciable amount of traffic?

Captain Trips! (4, Funny)

Tihstae (86842) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723335)

It has arrived. Evil people start moving toward Vegas. Good people will be found in Colorado.

Who has been talking to you? The Old Lady or the Walking Man?

Re:Captain Trips! (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723385)

Funny, my wife and I had been thinking about moving to Boulder..

Re:Captain Trips! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723407)

I dream of Jeannie.

Re:Captain Trips! (2, Funny)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723525)

Yeah, but those of us in Colorado are stilling trying to push the bad ppl out of here. And yet, those damn lawyers WILL NOT LEAVE.

Not terrible surprising (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723337)

Interestingly, it appears to be expressing more of the Avian flu, than the swine. In particular, all the deaths as of yesterday eve where ppl in 20-40 range. ONLY Avian had that characteristic. What has been interesting is the number of posts here in America that say that we should shut down all traffic to Mexico on south. Of course, many of these posts mention illegal aliens. Now, the question is, how many other nations are going to say that they want to shut down all traffic between all nations in the (north|central|south) Americas and themselves?

Souvenir (3, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723341)

And there I was wondering what to bring back from the US as a souvenir when I go there next week...

Re:Souvenir (5, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723425)

Herpes will last longer.

Multivitamins? (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723359)

I've been taking double or triple dose liquid multivitamins and withstood several bugs around work and with wife. I just like the thought of using chemicals instead of chi.

Re:Multivitamins? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723463)

This virus is killing healthier people. Clearly the solution is to eat terribly and weaken your immune system.

Re:Multivitamins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723565)

I've been taking double or triple dose liquid multivitamins and withstood several bugs around work and with wife.

Although I take a daily multivitamin, I've found the only thing that consistently reduces the severity and duration of a cold is Echinacea [wikipedia.org] .

But maybe that's just me.

Wife? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723605)

Some on /. with a wife? Faker.

That's it... Keep'em distracted (-1, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723381)

I am sure Obama was hoping for a hurricane in Florida but this will just have to do.

A school in Texas was entirely closed down after a couple of students got this flu. Of course, it may be worth mentioning that the students had already gotten over the bug in a fairly short time and had RETURNED TO SCHOOL before the closing actually occurred. It wasn't an "emergency measure" but a "precautionary measure."

Honestly people, it's the flu. We get a new one every year... sometimes several. I stopped getting flu shots decades ago and have been a LOT healthier since that time... actually I stopped doing a lot of things... stopped drinking so much milk, stopped taking medicines for every little thing and so on. While it is unquestionably true that over the past hundred years or more, we have extended our life expectancies considerably, but there is also a lot we are doing wrong. Wash your hands with soap but don't disinfect them all the damned time! And yes, even if you have HORRIBLE seasonal allergies like I do, just frikken endure it and let your body adjust the way it is supposed to -- don't keep buying suppressant chemicals that just make things worse in the long run. Each year that I simply suffer through allergy season gets easier and less severe.

But this does serve as a terrific distraction from the issues that are burning the government down. Our government has neatly placed itself "above the law" and is no longer accountable for what it does. Bush really pushed those limits and Obama is cementing it in. But wait... there's a new flu! And it's coming from another country! Close the borders! Close our schools!

Re:That's it... Keep'em distracted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723435)

I think we should shut down the non-essential Federal government agencies for a few weeks until this blows over.

Hey, there's the money you need Mr. Barak Hussein Obama. Just shut us down for a few weeks. . .not like we do that much anyway.

Re:That's it... Keep'em distracted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723499)

I think we should shut down the non-essential Federal government agencies for a few weeks until this blows over.

Best idea I've heard so far. :)

Re:That's it... Keep'em distracted (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723461)

Sounds like the one thing you didn't do was to loosen the tin-foil hat a bit. You know, sometimes, Shit Happens. It's not always an Illuminati Conspiracy.

And no, it's not "just the flu". It is a little early but it is looking eerily like the beginning of pandemic spread (late season, high mortality rate among generally healthy, H1N1). It may not be much, but the easiest, safest, cheapest method of dealing with it is rapid isolation. Like closing borders.

It may well be jumping the gun a bit, but since we are not likely to get good quality epidemiological information for weeks to months, it makes sense to potentially overreact.

Work on your tin-foil breathing mask while you have time. You can paint it black and look like Darth Vader!

Re:That's it... Keep'em distracted (4, Interesting)

VValdo (10446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723549)

Honestly people, it's the flu. We get a new one every year... sometimes several. I stopped getting flu shots decades ago and have been a LOT healthier since that time...

I really hope this doesn't prove to be the "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame" comment of pandemics.

From what I am reading, this virus is distinct in that there is no natural immunity in humans (unless, I assume, you recover), that it kills those with the strongest immune systems, and the number of known cases are doubling daily. And that it's pretty lethal, at least in Mexico. Some of the estimates by doctors in the linked story says that Mexico is underrepresenting the death toll by 10x.

Comments like "The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses" do not give me too much comfort either.

As I understand it, viruses with a higher rate of mortality burn themselves out very quickly. If this is just lethal enough that most infected people survive long enough to pass it on... but a significant number of those infected experience the cytokine storm... we could all be in serious trouble. I'd rather have the CDC and WHO overreact than under-react.

I guess we'll know soon (and that's assuming there's no dramatic mutation... there were three major waves of the 1918 pandemic as it came sweeping through the population and picked off the survivors of the previous one. The 2nd I think was the most lethal.)

W

Sanitary Conditions in farming animals (0, Redundant)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723397)

As with the Avian Flu virus I'm wondering if the problem is linked to poor sanitary conditions where swine, bird and more generally farming animals. If this is the case, would it not be beneficial to WHO and UN to increase the sanitary conditions in these areas. We also have to consider that some of the North American food supply is coming from China and Mexico among other countries and we should work to increase the food safety in any case.

Re:Sanitary Conditions in farming animals (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723577)

Just ensure you scrub your swine thoroughly before handling them.

Max Brooks was right (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723455)

Mexico hovers on martial law and the US declares emergency. Government responses will be increasingly strong before they admit the truth of the zombie uprising.

Swine flu, my butt. It's the Solanum virus and we won't know until it's too late to contain.

Re:Max Brooks was right (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723545)

It's OK though. All you have to do is stand in a corner and elbow the zombies repeatedly. They won't be able to hurt you then.

"Public Health Emergency" - burocratic for now (4, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723485)

Just to note... declaring a 'Public Health Emergency' sounds all kinds of doom&gloom-y, but doing so simply enables measures to be taken more quickly, more easily, etc.

"We are declaring today a public health emergency," Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said today at a White House news briefing. That declaration is "standard operating procedure," Napolitano said. "It is similar to what we do when we see a hurricane approaching a site. The hurricane might not actually hit but allows you to take a number of preparatory steps. We really don't know ultimately what the size or seriousness of this outbreak is going to be." - webmd.com

It's when the CDC starts issuing emergencies, quarantining local communities, ordering a halt to any and all traffic into / out of certain areas, etc. that you should start raising eyebrows.

business question (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723487)

Does food irradiation kill viruses? If so, does anyone here know the names of any companies that produce food irradiators?

Re:business question (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723539)

Irradiation probably does kill viruses. So does cooking.

Re:business question (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723555)

Does food irradiation kill viruses? If so, does anyone here know the names of any companies that produce food irradiators?

Umm, why are you asking? Are you planning on irridiating every one you might come in contact with? This is a respiratory virus - droplet transmission. Unless you're some sort of closet cannibal, I can't see why you are interested...

On second throught don't reply. I'm pretty sure I don't want to know....

In one word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723489)

wait a few months before buying real estate. you may be getting a very good deal then.

Immune system overreacting (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723491)

Here's a question for somebody who knows the immune system:

Apparently this flu is so deadly because the immune system overreacts (cytokine storm) and destroys more than just the virus. Would intentionally weakening the immune system then increase ones chances of surviving? From what I've read, it seems both sugar and alcohol would have an immediate weakening effect on the immune system. So to increase the chance of survival if infected: lots of sugar and alcohol?

News flash! (0, Offtopic)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723511)

We are all going to die.

Re:News flash! (5, Funny)

The Redster! (874352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723529)

YOU all are going to die. I'm moving to Madagascar.

Oh noes (0, Redundant)

kramulous (977841) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723553)

We're all gonna DIE!!!!!!

Kiss goodbye... (1)

RepelHistory (1082491) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723563)

...your ability to get laid if you get this as you inform your partner that you have the Pig Disease.

Re:Kiss goodbye... (1, Funny)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27723611)

Dude. You're on Slashdot. We've had this problem since the beginning.

Zombies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27723583)

Everyone get their zombie guns out, this is how it starts!

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