Sunday, October 25, 2009

H1N1 virus: Let the Big Cat jump

The Big Cat

Don't you find it interesting?  The effect of the H1N1 virus on society?   

Thus far, the virus is proving to be prolific, certainly.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is "flu activity" in 46 states.  And the number of doctor visits related to the flu is increasing steeply.  And the number of deaths.

The Kansas City Star reports that Shawnee Mission Medical Center is admitting 6 to 22 swine flu patients per day.  Just yesterday, President Obama declared a "swine flu emergency."  (Pity the poor tea-baggers!  On the one hand, they are afraid of the flu; on the other, they are afraid of President Obama.)  Hospitals are opening "alternative clinics" in anticipation of a surge of infections.

Swine flu has been very active in the northern hemisphere throughout the summer, which makes it exceptional for flu viruses.  Typically, influenza viruses don't do much during the summer.  Heath care experts seem nervous about what might happen during the cold months.

So far, the virus has not been particularly lethal.  There have been 1000 H1N1 related deaths in the United States.  That is not atypical for flu viruses.  But viruses tend to mutate. 

Who knows how this will all play out? 

A good friend of mine sent out an email late last week.  It was addressed to a dozen or so friends.  I quote it here:
I have seen the flu spread at work (all the media inspired panic aside) and it has hit some people pretty hard.  If any of you find your household laid up and want some help please don't hesitate to call [my wife] and me to pick up groceries, medicine, or whatever you might need. 
Times of crisis come and go.  And, in the end, of course, each of us will succumb to something.  What matters is how we face these emergencies.  I think my friend's email epitomizes the noble heart of mankind:  community, cooperation, taking care of each other.  That is how our species managed to get through its hunter-gatherer desperation; that is how we managed to spread from the Serengeti plains to every far-flung corner of the globe.

So, who knows what the swine flu will bring?  But if we face it together, it will be a whole lot nicer, win or lose.  

The Methodists have a proverb that I find apt for this time:  "If you're born to hang, you ain't gonna drown.  So let the big cat jump!"

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