Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Massachusetts Swine Flu - Panic or Preparation

Virus begins in Mexico - photo Washington Times

Tuesday, The Massachusetts Senatepassed a “pandemic flu preparation bill” that had been sitting on ice since prior to the Swine Flu outbreak. The Bill, S18 (Massachusetts Marshall Law) which gives the Governor the power to authorize the deployment and use of any forces to use to distribute supplies, and materials, local authorities will be allowed to enter private residences for investigation and to quarantine individuals – full text of the bill here.

As a result of the increasing numbers of reported cases nationwide and two possible cases in Massachusetts (Mexican Vacations) the Boston Globe is reporting that items such as face masks, hand sanitizers and such are flying off the shelves of local pharmacy chains.
Perhaps the precautions are due to the lack stance taken by the U.S. Government in in regards to individuals coming across the Mexican border or through airports, unlike other countries who are actively screening those coming in from Mexico and in some cases, such as Australia, pilots are being told that they must monitor passengers for flu symptoms and report prior to landing.

With some in the U.S. Government going so far as to want an eradication of the name “Swine” before flu, in the event someone believes the virus is caused by food, rather than human contact, , coupled with a total disregard for the public safety by continuing an open border policy, it is no wonder that U.S. citizens are becoming concerned.

The last flu to raise this much havoc was the Hong Kong Flu, which killed an estimated 700,000 people worldwide in the 1960's. That flu (or a strain thereof) still appears today, and according to the CDC, the strains of all flu result in 36,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone. Advice offered by the CDC includes the basics: washing ones hands, not touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes, and generally following basic hygiene – for those affected with the flu, they are asked to stay home from school or work and not cough or sneeze on others – sound advice – however, if one has a child in school, or is in the workplace, one knows that parents send their children to school sick all the time, in order to get to work, ignoring the obvious, and further spreading whatever illness they have contracted. As to facemasks, the CDC does not recommend them for healthy individuals rather suggest that those who are infected would wear them to school and work.

Border Control - photo

The simple solution would be for the Federal Government to take a more pro-active stance, and publicly announce the refusal of entry to anyone coming in from Mexico until the virus has abated. This would serve two purposes: one, it would allay the fears of the general populace, and two, it would stop further spread of the flu. The fact that case are already popping up from Disneyland to El Paso, and can be linked directly to a Mexican vacation or national, is evidence enough to start the process. An unlikely consequence of the failure to act on the part of the administration is a prejudice against those of Mexican descent, or anyone who may appear Hispanic in appearance. It is a natural course of events that individuals understanding that the virus is coming in from that Country, coupled with the constant media drumbeat of sensationalism in journalism, the unprecedented amount of illegal entries through our southern border, stands to further a prejudice or fear of those who might be seen as carrying or causing the outbreak. It is the ugly side of human nature to cast blame, specifically if the illness continues to spread and nothing is done.

In the final analysis, as of April 18th, the amount of documented cases of all flu was low at 6.2% of the populace, and as of April 28 65 cases of Swine Flu have been confirmed, a drop in the bucket so to speak in the grand scheme of flu strain. Of course, that number will continue to rise as precautions by individuals and our government is cast aside for expediency in the case of the populace, and the Laissez-faire attitude on the part of the Administration. That said, with the knowledge that all U.S. citizens now have regarding this flu, one would understand, that like any other flu outbreak, the populace will take precautions (including the purchase of hand sanitizers and masks) and the spread of the virus should be contained. The American Citizen is nothing if not resilient and capable, giving rise to the original concept of the founding fathers - less reliance on government. Health Tip: Face masks can be found on Ebay, Stock Tip: Buy 3M (Face Mask Manufacturer)


EatYourOkra said...

It wouldn't hurt to sanitize and disinfect the cabin of every plane as it enters the country at its first layover. Shoot, I wonder how often they're cleaned and disinfected for domestic flights.

Tina Hemond said...

Hi Okra! Good point - and could not agree more - they should do it on a regular basis - but.. who knows? It is the conditions in which viral infections breed (schools, hospitals, closed spaces!!!) that need special attention.

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