Tonight we had an epidemiologist and his wife and their kids over for dinner. The epidemiologist had to sit out on our porch for the beginning of dinner because of a conference call with other public-health officials throughout the Bay Area. And he was on another long call with officials statewide earlier today.
So the swine flu was the main thrust of our dinner discussion. And it looks bad.
From the epidemiologist I get the impression that officials were caught a little offguard by this flu. And that can't be good.
Here's the thing: any flu bug that jumps over from another species into humans and then begins transferring human-to-human is a pandemic in the making. And you don't have to be an epidemiologist to see that the human-to-human thing has totally started. It's rather obvious. But it's not the Scary Avian Flu so we're okay, right?
No. Not at all.
But we were expecting the pandemic to start in Asia, not Mexico. So, uh, what shall we do? It was supposed to come from birds, not pigs. So, uh, what shall we do?
Had half as many people been diagnosed with avian flu in California as have already been diagnosed with swine flu, the procedure was to shut down all schools, minimize all travel, discourage people from getting into groups. California would be as quiet as Mexico City is tonight.
But this started in pigs. And it appeared in Mexico! This wasn't what we expected!
So let's hold off.
The epidemiologist told us that by tomorrow they should have tested enough people in the state to know how to proceed. He suspects the only options are total lockdown or the good news that it's already on its way out.
But swine flu is killing the youngest and healthiest first. Sort of like the Spanish Flu did. This doesn't really look like frontpage news for Mexico City only.
So if you're feeling sick, stay home tomorrow. If you're running to the store tonight for ice cream, get all your groceries while you're there. Of course we all hope nothing happens.
But what if this is the virus we've all been waiting for?
Let's be safe.