Thursday, April 30, 2009
So I'm riding the subway yesterday like any other day, and invariably like clock work I see my first strange story of the day: a lady walking up the steps from the downtown 2 wearing a full out surgical mask like what the doctors wear when they operate. Even though I've seen people wear these masks before on the subway (and much more) this situation was different because as soon as I saw her walking up the steps in her mask, I saw another person behind her ALSO wearing a mask. And then it hit me: ah yes...Swine Flu! Quick, where's my doctor's mask?!?! I'm gonna DIE!!! AHhhhhhhhhh!!!
Well, I'm not really that much of an alarmist but the thought did cross my mind that when you live in a place like New York City, a single virus could go from Brooklyn to Manhattan and on up to the Bronx in about 20 minutes, and touch thousands of people along the way. We're kinda packed in like sardines here so if this thing were like I Am Legend, we would all either be dead or lined up at the Brooklyn Bridge talking about "I order you to scan me again!"
So just how contagious is the H1N1 virus known as "Swine Flu?" When asked this morning on the TODAY show, Vice President Joe Biden, making yet another potentially harmful gaff this time instead of his usual embarrassing gaff, said: "I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined spaces places now," explaining it was a matter of avoiding confined spaces. He added, "I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway."
There have been cases of the Swine Flu virus, believed to have originated from Mexico, documented inside the United States already with cases confirmed in my home state of Kansas, and also following me out to my current home state of New York. (is this thing after me or what?) But not to be outdone by the east coast, California has also thrown its hat into the ring of confirmed Swine Flu cases as well. So far, one person, an infant in Texas, has died from Swine Flu. As a result, some people are hitting the panic button and calling for a closing of the Mexican-U.S. border. (because the virus hasn't entered the U.S. already right, you geniuses?)
I have invited my Doctor friends to read this blog and chime in between treating gun shot wounds to hopefully give us some more insight. In the meanwhile, I'm curious to hear what people think about hitting the panic button with regard to Swine Flu, given that 100's have died from the virus in Mexico already. Is the panic justified in the United States, yes or no?
Update - see the following for more info: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/general_info.htm