Several months ago, I read The Plague by Albert Camus with morbid fascination and horror. Though the circumstances and the disease are different today, I feel the same sense of horror and awe Camus captures so perfectly. Except that now it is real, it is tangible to me, and my head is spinning. Truthfully, my head has spinning since the first news story broke about this and I have tried to read every single news story possible which is obviously making me more panicked, but I can’t help it.
I know the regular flu kills thousands of people worldwide annually. I am aware this virus has not killed as many as SARS, nor have any of the other past “epidemic/pandemic scares” we have had in the last decade. I have read the statistics on drunk diving deaths, accidental deaths, and all have caused many more tragedies that the swine flu. Yet, I find absolutely none of this information comforting (unfortunately for me).
Today, there has been at least one confirmed case of the swine flu in Spain contracted by someone who had not visited Mexico. Add to that the first U.S. death of a toddler caused by the swine flu, and the hundreds of deaths in Mexico likely caused by this flu, and I am completely freaked out.
“The UN health agency has been closely monitoring the progress of the new H1N1 virus to see whether there was sustained person-to-person transmission outside Mexico, where the outbreak appears to have started.
“Once there is, the WHO will notch up its threat alert to declare a phase five pandemic, one step short of a phase six or global pandemic. “We are moving that way, but I don’t think we are there yet,” Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director-general, said tonight.”
What I find most concerning is that pandemics come in waves. The first wave of the pandemic (which I believe we are seeing right now) is usually mild, compared to the later waves. Viruses are super-tricky and may go underground for several months, then reemerge as better and stronger viruses adept at taking complete control of their hosts. (That means us, unfortunately.)
I am certain that we will see this current influenza strain infect many more in the coming days through person-to-person transmission, and that with enough time, this virus will learn how to successfully kill the bodies it inhabits.
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