Swine flu and the new administration

Here are a few tweets from minutes and hours ago, almost all concerned with swine flu (culled from BNO news at 5:49 PST on 4/26):

  1. California school closed as officials investigate suspected swine flu case; second case being investigated in Ohio: http://adjix.com/axm7

  2. Kyodo: Government expects Japan’s economy to shrink postwar worst 3.3% in FY 2009.

  3. Authorities investigate eleven possible swine flu cases in Colombia and Minister Palacio says the government is on high alert – local media.

  4. JUST IN — Local authorities say that 6 more people have died from suspected swine flu in Mexico, which would raise the death toll to 92.

  5. Two people have been taken to an hospital in Queensland, Australia with swine flu symptoms, Sky News Australia reports.

  6. Medical staff has been dispatched to Auckland Airport and all passengers from the Americas are being screened before entry into the country.

  7. The New Zealand Ministry of Health says another student, suspected to have been infected with swine flu, has been hospitalized.

  8. Reuters: Exit poll says Ecuador’s president Correa re-elected with 54 percent of the vote.

  9. NEWS ALERT — NY Gov. David Paterson is holding a news conference regarding the swine flu epidemic. @mpoppel is covering it live.

  10. Texas officials say they have found a number of additional suspected swine flu cases. The 14 closures will take effect immediately.

  11. KSAT-TV: Texas closes 14 schools and district facilities in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District due to swine flu.

Here’s the problem with that oh-so-efficient Obama administration:

The Obama administration declared a “public health emergency” Sunday to confront the swine flu — but is heading into its first medical outbreak without a secretary of Health and Human Services or appointees in any of the department’s 19 key posts.

And here’s Obama’s response to the whole thing:

President Obama went golfing and the Department of Health and Human Services is short a secretary, so other U.S. officials took the controls Sunday as the Obama administration ramps up efforts to find and isolate U.S. cases of swine flu.

As the Watcher of Weasels points out, Obama’s getting a pass on this cavalier attitude from precisely the same people who still, to this day, castigate George Bush for having the presence of mind not to run screaming from a room full of elementary school children when he first heard about the Twin Towers.  (The Watcher points out a whole lot more stuff that’s worth reading on this topic, too.)  There’s a difference between no panicking people (George Bush) and not caring (Obama).

Obama may be right up there with God, but I’m not feeling very good about having his administration in charge right now.

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    “It’s all hands on deck at the moment.”



    Attention: The voice you did not hear was the silence of the great orator.

  • Mike Devx

    Apologies for a long post. In case the BBC alters the story at this link, I thought I’d post some of it here.

    These are anecdotes from people in Mexico, to be taken for what they may be worth. Instapundit has the link to this as well:


    Some of the anecdotes:

    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 am a doctor and I work in the State of Mexico. I don’t work in the shock team; I am in the echocardiography team, but I do get some news from my colleagues in the hospital. There have been some cases of young people dying from respiratory infections, but this happened before the alert and they were not reported because the necessary tests weren’t done. We doctors knew this was happening a week before the alert was issued and were told to get vaccinated. I went to buy some anti-virals for my husband, who is also a doctor, because he had contact with a young patient who presented influenza symptoms and died. I don’t think pharmacies stock enough anti-virals.

    I understand the government doesn’t want to generate panic, but my personal opinion is that they issued the alert too late. Still now, the population is not getting the information they need. We have been out in the street and some people are not wearing face masks and are not taking any preventive measures.
    Guadalupe, 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

    I work as a resident doctor in one of the biggest hospitals in Mexico City and sadly, the situation is far from “under control”. As a doctor, I realise that the media does not report the truth. Authorities distributed vaccines among all the medical personnel with no results, because two of my partners who worked in this hospital (interns) were killed by this new virus in less than six days even though they were vaccinated as all of us were. The official number of deaths is 20, nevertheless, the true number of victims are more than 200. I understand that we must avoid to panic, but telling the truth it might be better now to prevent and avoid more deaths.
    Yeny Gregorio Dávila, Mexico City


    Good post, Mike.

    I am getting a bit ‘twitchy’ from all of this.

    The more disturbing comment (other than the obvious) is that Mexico is still allowing flights in and out.

  • suek

    So…why is it killing so many in Mexico and seems so mild in the US? I’d say poor medical care, but it sounds like those dying are in hospital care, and seems to include medical staff – who you’d expect to get the best care. So is their best care less qualified than our average care? Or is there something else involved? Why is it hitting the young adults so hard, and not the old people or children? I’ve heard that the reason is that young adults have a strong immune system, and that the immune reaction is manifested by a strong reaction in the lungs, and that children and older people don’t have as strong an immune reaction and thus don’t have the severe lung problems. I’m not sure that makes sense to me – but that’s what I’ve seen as an explanation.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Suek: Last question first. The Spanish Influenza epidemic killed young adults hardest for precisely that reason — their incredibly strong immune systems reacted with such force, the reaction killed them. People with immune systems got sick, but the disease didn’t kill them and their immune systems just sort of drifted along. The assumption is that the same thing is happening here.

    As for the fact that people are dying in Mexico, and walking out of doctor’s offices with a prescription in America, that is very weird, and I’m seeing other people ask that question all over the blogosphere.

  • suek

    I did read a report that postulated that Mexico had many indigenous undiagnosed or untreated diseases, such as TB, that also have their effect, as well as more intensive concentration of populations.

    Of course, I suspect that at least a part of the question is whether it may be the result of a biological attack, and whether the mildness of the US problem may be due to moving through multiple hosts…

    Just a bit paranoid here. If the intention is economic loss, rather than attempting to kill off a whole lot of people… Could be. I guess time will tell.

  • Mike Devx

    I have a question. if anyone hears the answer, could you post it?

    All the cases in the usa (and in europe and canada) have recovered. No one has died.

    My question:
    Of the people who fell ill who have recovered, how many of them recovered on their own, versus received anti-viral medication and then recovered? For those who received anti-viral medication, how much time passed after they got sick before they received the medication?

    thanks in advance!

  • suek

    No answer for you, Mike, but you might find this interesting.



    Just a bit paranoid here. If the intention is economic loss, rather than attempting to kill off a whole lot of people… Could be. I guess time will tell.

    Feeling a bit paranoid suek at Level 4 today.

    Read Obama’s comment and then Besser’s. I am betting on Dr. Besser being more in touch with reality.
    In the meantime, I went to to the dentist today and asked the hygienist for a couple of surgical masks, just in case.

    Putting an alert at Phases 4 or 5 signals that the virus is becoming increasingly adept at spreading among humans. That move could lead governments to set trade, travel and other restrictions aimed at limiting its spread.

    Phase 6 is for a full-blown pandemic, characterized by outbreaks in at least two regions of the world.

    It could take 4-6 months before the first batch of vaccines are available to fight the virus, WHO officials said.

    Russia, Hong Kong and Taiwan said they would quarantine visitors showing symptoms of the virus amid global fears of a pandemic, an epidemic spread over a large area, either a region or worldwide.

    President Barack Obama said the outbreak was reason for concern, but not yet “a cause for alarm.”

    Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that so far the virus in the United States seems less severe than in Mexico. Only one person has been hospitalized in the U.S.

    “I wouldn’t be overly reassured by that,” Besser told reporters at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, raising the possibility of more severe cases in the United States.

    “We are taking it seriously and acting aggressively,” Besser said. “Until the outbreak has progressed, you really don’t know what it’s going to do.”


    Seems from reading this item that:

    1. Secretary of Health in Mexico knows less than nothing.
    2. They have not followed up with home visits to the initial victims nor given extended family members antibiotics.
    3. Cannot provide statistics of age/gender of deceased, etc.

    Is it possible that they are not sending all the drugs to the US, but are smoking most of the reefer in-house.


  • Mike Devx

    suek #8:

    They claim in the story that flies are the vector of transmission. I suppose that’s possible, but then flies would be known to be a vector of ANY flu. I think they’re just looking to blame a big company they don’t like… just my opinion.

    Today’s statistic: I heard that 30,000 people in the USA die from one of the “regular flus” every year. So, at what point should I become concerned about this new flu virus, swine or not? At zero deaths, I’m just not very concerned at this point.

  • suek

    >>They claim in the story that flies are the vector of transmission.>>

    I agree that flies are probably a bogus threat. Still, we’re talking about Mexico here. How aggressive are they about pollution from the manure lagoons? How aggressive about workers’ sanitation? I know that hogs are very sensitive to various diseases, and due to the conditions they’re raised in they’re also very susceptible to disease spread – so the farmers have to be very rigorous about cleanliness. The problem I see is that education levels of farm workers are likely to be low, and without education about _why_ sanitation practices need to be followed, people tend to ignore them if they aren’t being observed/checked on. So I do think it’s possible that worker negligence could be a factor – as well as just plain pollution problems.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Obama may be right up there with God, but I’m not feeling very good about having his administration in charge right now.

    The Greek Gods were said to punish the guilty, the avaricious, the arrogant, and those with hubris with insanity, calamity, and destructive demands.

    In our day, the punishments still exist, except the Greek Gods have become flawed humans. Just like they were back in Ancient Greece. No real change there.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Obama will throw all of us under the bus to save himself. The same was true of Carter and Clinton.

    It is a luxury of America’s power and historical sacrifice that such leaders can come to power and not destroy the hand that feeds them. But everything has a limit.

    And nature’s limits on human greed and stupidity are amongst the most severe, the most righteous, and the most dramatic. AIDS?

    Irresponsible behavior and the arrogant Greek God complex that says “I can do whatever I want without a care in the world” has always had negative consequences.

    And in the end, Book, we will all pay for the follies of a few. Just as an entire army will be defeated and crucified because of bad officers and somebody who ran instead of holding the shield wall, thereby causing a mass panic and rout where victory may have been right in reach.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Obama has made fools of America, at home and abroad. And this is only the smallest infinitesimal price that will be eventually paid until human beings learn the folly of foolishness, hubris, and arrogant self-centered idiocy.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    And then once they have learned, their children will forget for then will come a time of plenty. ANd the cycle will repeat itself. This is the true legacy of the human species. The true Original Sin, although it was no fault of anyone that they reached for the knowledge of good and evil, in order to transcend the state of an animal.