“Full Pandemic Potential”

Now that’s certainly an exciting phrase.  I find it helpful to remind myself that “pandemic” refers mostly to the extent of the spread of the virus, and not necessarily the severity.

Researchers are estimating that 1 in 3 people who come into contact with someone infected will become infected themselves.  (I watch too many zombie-flu movies, because every time I hear “the infected” I think of the “rage” virus in 28 days later…not a pretty sight.”) Anyhow, researchers think the H1N1 virus will “go global” in the next 6-9 months. The “analysis of Mexico’s swine flu outbreak suggests that the H1N1 virus is about as dangerous as the virus behind a 1957 pandemic that killed 2 million people worldwide.”

Prof Ferguson from the WHO’s emergency committee for the outbreak, says:

“This virus really does have full pandemic potential. It is likely to spread around the world in the next six to nine months and when it does so it will affect about one-third of the world’s population.

To put that into context, normal seasonal flu every year probably affects around 10% of the world’s population every year, so we are heading for a flu season which is perhaps three times worse than usual – not allowing for whether this virus is more severe than normal seasonal flu viruses.”

Follow PlagueGirl on Twitter!

Advertisements

Updates

A school in Rockville, Maryland has been closed due to a suspected swine flu case that appears to have been acquired in the community.

“In all the other cases, the patient had some link to a person who had recently traveled to Mexico, where the disease seems to have begun. But in this case, officials said, neither the student nor his immediate family had traveled recently, which makes it more worrisome…”

The number of possible swine flu cases at the Harvard Dental School has risen to 9.

8 students at Amherst College have been isolated due to possible infection.

A man in the UK has been confirmed as the first person to have contracted the virus without visiting Mexico.

Around 300 people staying at a hotel in Hong Kong have been quarantined after a guest was confirmed to have the swine flu.

The CDC says it’s “good news” that this current strain lacks the genes of the 1918 virus that was so deadly, but the fact that “the new virus is a very unusual four-way combination of human genes and genes from swine viruses found in North America, Asia and Europe” does not make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

People are still wearing those ridiculous masks around as if they help.  They only really help if you’re sick in not spreading around all the germs that come out of your mouth.

Tonight seems like a good night for zombie movies.

Follow PlagueGirl on Twitter!

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.”

Follow PlagueGirl on Twitter!