peterbirks: (Default)
Forget the economy, the most concerning piece of news to have broken in the past 48 hours has been the outbreak of swine 'flu in Mexico. There are several serious causes of concern:

1) It's a hybrid of bird and swine 'flu that has moved onto humans and is transmittable from human to human. From current (very rough) statistics, Mexico thinks that about 1000 people have been affected, of whome 60 have died.

2) It's striking beyond the very young and the old, indicating that this is something beyond a 'normal' influenza epidemic

3) It's striking outside the normal 'flu season, another indication that this is an abnormal attack.

4) It's in Mexico, which, although not "first world" is intrinsically tied to the US. Any spread would first be to southern California, and Los Angeles is one of themost metropolitan places on earth. The potential for a rapid spreading is therefore very high.

5) As yet there is no vaccine and, to be frank, no prospect of an efficient one before October.


On the plus side, if you get to a hospital fast, it's treatable. On the downside, if it's a pandemic, hospitals might be hard-pushed to cope.


If it does turn out to be a serious 'flu pandemic, all we need is an earthquake in San Francisco, and that'll make it a full house for 2010.

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