Phase 6 Imminent!

The WHO is reportedly gearing up for a declaration of pandemic phase 6.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  CNN is reporting that the WHO has scheduled an emergency meeting for today.  If the WHO declares a pandemic Thursday, it will be the first flu pandemic in 41 years.

“What this would mean is that spread of the virus has continued and that activity has become established in at least two regions of the world…It does not mean that the severity of the situation has increased and that people are getting seriously sick at higher numbers or higher rates than they are right now. This is a very important point for countries to understand.”

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More on Infected Zombies

Salon has a good article on “plague movies” and how they relate to our panic over the swine flu.  Some of my favorite excerpts that articulate my crazy fears better than I would:

“What most if not all of these movies share is a gloomy atmosphere of isolation and paranoia. The culture so carefully built by man over the centuries has either completely disappeared or is vanishing rapidly. Stores are closed and, very likely, have been looted. Our traditional means of law and order have disappeared. There’s no more garbage pickup. The military and the government are usually somehow involved — ostensibly, they’re trying to keep order, but mostly they’re  just leading people to their doom.

These movies do more than just lay out chilly what-if scenarios. Some of them are steeped in biblical morality: How do we react when we see fellow human beings in pain? When we see someone in danger — a feverish individual, say, who may or may not be a zombie — do we stop to help if doing so threatens our own safety, or do we opt for self-preservation? In most plague movies, there’s deep mistrust of “the other,” the outsider who may be infected (and it’s often an outsider who started it all). Those kinds of stark divisions raise even bigger questions, sometimes amounting to a kind of civics lesson: What is it that keeps a society together, even if it’s just a society of a dozen or so healthy (that is to say, uninfected) people?

And maybe that’s why a real-life virus scare and a wholly fictional movie elicit the same response in us: Both make us think about coming face-to-face with our own sense of aloneness.”

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“Don’t fall prey to pandemic panic”

Mark Siegel, author of “Bird Flu: What You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic” (which I’d like to read soon but I don’t know how much pandemic literature I can stomach) wrote an article that I actually find comforting.  Some things he mentions:

‘After the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency over the weekend and the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to level four on Monday and then to level five Wednesday…it sounded like we were gearing up for nuclear war. In reality, the term “flu pandemic” simply means a new strain is infecting and spreading among people in several areas of the world at the same time. It can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Today, the nervous general public should be comforted by the time of the year. It’s the end of the flu season – and that goes for any type of flu. These viruses thrive in the low humidity of winter, not summer, and it is very likely that this outbreak will die out as the warmer weather comes.”

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