The swine flu is a viral event very similar to the 1918 Spanish flu and the 1969 Hong Kong flu. It causes the immune system of very healthy people to go haywire. The lymph glands swell and the lungs fill with fluid and this is what makes this flu so deadly. I was one of the earliest victims of the Hong Kong flu and because I was an athlete and very healthy, it nearly killed me.
Even so, these diseases do not hit everyone. No one in my family got it, for example. And also, the disease tends to become progressively less dangerous over the course of a rather short time frame, less than a year. But right now, it is quite dangerous to people between 16-30 years of age. Washing hands and carrying tissues is most important. i got the Hong Kong flu because of my work as a medic and this meant, before we knew of the disease, I didn’t take precautions that all medics take today. For good reason.
I’m a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.
There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
Antonio Chavez, Mexico City
I think there is a real lack of information and sadly, preventative action. In the capital of my state, Oaxaca, there is a hospital closed because of a death related to the porcine influenza. In the papers they recognise only two people dead for that cause. Many friends working in hospitals or related fields say that the situation is really bad, they are talking about 19 people dead in Oaxaca, including a doctor and a nurse. They say they got shots but they were told not to talk about the real situation. Our authorities say nothing. Life goes on as usual here.
Young people are going to schools and universities. Buses and planes go and come from Mexico City as frequently as before. Even with two people dead locally, last night the local baseball stadium was full, mainly with young people. What’s really happening? I know vaccines are good for nothing, and if you take care, maybe you won’t die, so, why not acknowledge the real situation? I know that the economic situation is not the best, and it will worsen with panic. But panic comes from a lack of information. Many people travel for pleasure or without any real need. Stopping those unjustified trips can help a lot to ease the situation. We must do something!Alvaro Ricardez, Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico
The truth is that it is very strange, what we are living through here. The streets are empty, we are all staying in our houses. People are only going out to the hospitals, drugstores and to buy food. The great majority have their mouths covered. Concerts, festivals, masses have all been cancelled, the football matches have all been played behind closed doors. On the television and radio, every commercial break contains information on the symptoms, saying that if you have them to go to the doctor at once. Although we have been told to go to work as normal on Monday, I am worried because I am employed at a company where there are many people and believe that it could be highly contagious. They say on the news that the cases that are most critical involve people aged 20 to 50.
Nallely T, State of Mexico
Right now the situation is quite scary. We’ve never been living under such circumstances and it’s caught us completely off guard. We are a developing country so our health system isn’t very effective, plus the fact that our city is overpopulated doesn’t help much; the government is doing what they can but I don’t think it’s enough. So the future isn’t looking too bright. Everyone is very frightened, there are few people on the streets and we are all trying to be as safe as possible. But not knowing exactly how the virus works and how it can be killed off creates a horrible uncertainty. I’m being pessimistic but that’s how most people I’ve talked to feel. Mariana, Mexico City
It’s certainly been very quiet where I’m living in the Historic Centre of Mexico City, whereas normally the centre is almost uncomfortably packed at the weekend. Most people also seem to be wearing the face masks being handed out by the army around the city. There always seems to be a healthy mistrust of the government here, but I wouldn’t say I’m sensing a great deal of paranoia or panic. It does seem as though the unprecedented actions being taken by the government to contain the virus don’t match with the statistics being provided, however, so there is some doubt as to whether they’re just being overly cautious or whether things are a lot worse than what they’re telling the public.
Randal Sheppard, Mexico City
As I said in the video, I can’t verify these postings from Mexico but they are very much like my own experience with the Hong Kong flu. The doctor and nurse who first took care of me both got very sick. The person who took me in when I collapsed did not get sick. He was an asthma victim and had various health problems.
The fact that this thing hits the strongest the hardest, sets it apart from most other diseases which mostly weaken the weak, further. This is why these sorts of viral infections are so frightening. Most people believe, if they are healthy and strong, they won’t get some horrible, contagious disease. Far from it.
Just like hoof and mouth disease goes from healthy animal to healthy animal, so do swine and avian flues. When these sorts of diseases sweep through farm animals, they are culled. That is, all animals from the place where the disease is seen, are killed. Naturally, we don’t do this to ourselves. Which means, we must endure diseases. It is part of our collective responsibility.
By Chan Akya Given the importance of these optimistic assumptions to the overall market story, wouldn’t you expect more folks in the financial media to focus a bit on the kind of developments that could derail these projections? After all, the bird flu, while a less virulent strain of the species-jumping virus than appears to be involved in the present swine flu outbreak, did take a rather large bite out of the economic growth of Asian countries in 2004.
One of the ironies of history is, the potato blight killed more people and caused more economic disruptions than any plague. This is because it starved millions of people to death and weakened their health so various plagues could also sweep in. Famine and plague run hand in glove. Usually, by oppressing people or pushing them into unsanitary ghettos and cutting water availability like we see in Gaza, leads to plagues. And the reason why creating ghettos is so evil is due to them becoming breeding grounds for diseases.
This is why all slums in the world are very dangerous to the upper classes if there is no public sanitation and health care. Oaxaca was the scene of huge demonstrations for more civil rights, better pay for teachers, more schools, better working conditions. It is heavily populated and needs better sanitation and health care and has neither.
The Mexican elites managed to run a very corrupt election which the technocrat rich kid won…and he immediately pounced on Oaxaca and violently suppressed the agitation for change. Now, Mother Nature retaliates and all the rich in Mexico City, NYC, London, Paris, everywhere on earth tremble with fear.
I would suggest that if we treated Oaxaca better back in 2002, things would be better today. And since we insist on enabling and expanding slums and ghettos all over the world, we better brace ourselves for more plagues. Look at the displacement of civilians in Sri Lanka, another potential plague vector.
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