Sunday, 26 April 2009

Swine Flu: From Zero to Sixty

On Friday...this story of Swine Flu was just starting to gather steam and be a front-page item. Today...it is front-page and starting to become worrisome.

There are several things going here, if you aren't catching all of the hints.

First, the bulk of this may be in Mexico presently...but its already shown itself in the US and appears to be doubling up each day. This doesn't mean much if we are talking about 100 cases on Friday, 200 cases on Saturday, etc. But you have to look at the 1918 flu epidemic and see that as each day went by....it grew on stronger and stronger. Of a hundred that might get it...even with the best drugs today...it would appear like that five might not make it. The worst group? Those already sickly, the older folks, and the very young.

Now, stand back and examine the 1918 event. Same story. Although we didn't have the drugs, and it was likely to be ten to twenty who died. The 1918 event had lots of curves. The President never declared a nation-wide emergency....it'd never been done before and Wilson himself likely had the Flu (rather than the stroke).

There were entire neighborhoods that were simply wiped out with vast portions of the population disappearing.

I read a book on this topic last year...The Great Influenza. If you have it in the local library...pick it up. From a historical prospective, it really lays out all of the issues.

One example cited in the book revolves around the father of one family coming home from work and feeling pretty sick. He went straight to bed. Sometime after the kids left for school the next morning....he died. The wife didn't realize the speed of this. By the time he died, she was apparently already having the sweats and problems. By the time that the kids got home...they found both father and mother dead in the house. Around that neighborhood, the problem continued on.

What starts to make this issue in Mexico interesting....is that one of the first cases occurred with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City (16 Apr). President Obama went over and viewed some historical stuff at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist. Felipe died in less than twenty-four hours after meeting the president. The symptoms given by the press so far....match up to the flu. How many Secret Service guys hung around the day prior? Could members of the Presidential staff gotten a dose of this?

What you should expect by Monday? A serious discussion over airline operations and travel will start up. If the case balloon to 5,000 in the US...I think a national shutdown will occur...which might happen by Friday of next week. How long? My guess is that they could do this for seven days at best. Is it too late? Yep...my guess is that it will continue to spread....perhaps at a slower pace. We gain days and maybe a few weeks by this option.

I would expect the National Guard and Reserve to be activated by next weekend...and you begin seeing tent-city medical operations in large portions of the US. Drugs? It'll be a national shortage and the companies will be forced into some type of government demand to produce at maximum capacity.

If this were to run the same way as 1918...expectations? This is difficult. A number of folks disagree with the death total of 1918...saying it was more, and some suggest less. Out of a 300-million population...if it were to repeat at the same levels...you'd likely see a group of twenty million folks who don't make it...as a minimum. In today's high medical world...my guess is five million just might not make it.

Your options? Once you know it's hit your town or region...I'd limit going out and use a surgical mask whenever possible. The problem will be that folks get this...and no one wants to help them through the flu...with fluids and care. Fear will grip our society. More will die because we are afraid to help the sick. The biggest issue...is that the moment you start displaying issues...you might have twenty-four hours before you are in the final stages of survival or death. This is the unique part about this flu...you won't have time to really do much...except to pray and hope.

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