Shades of Steven King – is this new Swine Flu epidemic something out of a horror novel that the Maine based fiction novelist is known to crank out for his adoring readers? Well, not exactly. Mr. King’s best seller, The Stand, which came out about 10 years ago, told a horror tale about the effects of a “super flu” which killed off more than 99% of the human race, leaving a handful of survivors to face off against a devil-like man (or was he really Satan himself) named Randal Flag, who wanted to take over the world.
The present flu epidemic, is (so far) not nearly as potent as Kings “Captain Tripps”, and most likely will wind up being less deadly that either the Avian (bird) flu or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Otherwise known as SARS this deadly thing began in China and eventually spread to 37 countries, killing 774 people and infecting more than 8,000. Swine flu has so far killed at least 120 people in its “country of origin”, i.e. Mexico, and has spread to neighboring USA, Canada, France, the UK, and as far away as New Zealand.
What many people may not realize is that a pig has almost the same physical organ and respiratory makeup as a human or other higher primate, and only lacks a vermiform appendix to be almost an exact duplicate. Perhaps this is why pig organs have been used in organ transplants in a last ditched effort to save someone’s life when a suitable human organ could not be found (with unsuccessful results, unfortunately). This might be the reason that this form of influenza has spread so quickly to humans.
In any case, some are saying that the disease is spreading faster than is being announced and this may be why the Obama Administration has decided to give it a higher profile, in order not to be accused later on of not doing enough to prevent its spread. Being both airborne (spread by coughing and other discharges from the nose and mouth) and by affected persons touching doorknobs, computer keyboards, glassware and other utensils, and Lord knows what else, the speed in which this disease is spreading is almost like something out of a fiction drama which Hollywood likes to throw at us from time to time.
The scientific term for this scourge is H1N1, and with unrestricted travel between Mexico and other countries, especially the US, the disease will be able to spread even faster, despite vaccines like “TamiFlu”, gauze face masks, and frequent hand washing.
Now, many people can understand why a lot of folk, including TV personality Howie Mandel, have a condition known as mysophobia (fear of germs), and will not shake hands with anyone; and wash their hands as much as 50 times a day (the legendary Howard Hughes carried his phobias about germs even further a-field).
Whatever the reasons, there are concerns, as health officials still recall the post World War I Spanish Influenza pandemic which spread world-wide and killed millions in a relatively short period of time.
In any case, it’s better to be safe than sorry; and it might be a good idea to postpone that second honeymoon trip to Cancun or Acapulco. As for the beleaguered Mexican authorities, this latest “hit” on top of the drug cartel wars couldn’t have come at a worse time. But as they say south of the border: Asi es la vida!