Monday, August 10, 2009

The Trouble With Viruses...

As the first influenza pandemic in 41 years has spread during the Southern Hemisphere's winter over the past few months, the United States and other northern countries have been racing to prepare for a second wave of swine flu virus.

At the same time, international health authorities have become increasingly alarmed about the new virus's arrival in the poorest, least-prepared parts of the world.

They travel a lot, to be sure, but they never take vacations!
That last bit is the scariest part of this latest warning. The poor, even in this country, have terrible access to medical care, and of course, that leaves the poor as a perfect incubator for this virus as well as any mutations that might occur. This will make the virus that much harder to eradicate or at least contain.
Already, strains of the virus are showing up that are resistant to Tamiflu, one of two recognized flu fighters on the market. Too, isolation and quarantine in poor populations is harder, as people have to work merely to survive and will work until they drop dead.
Certainly, northern hemisphere governments have had plenty of warning and opportunity to set up for this winter's return and those preparations may turn out to have been overkill, although I doubt it. The virulence of this particular bug seems to be undoubted and we've already seen some extreme measures were needed last winter to contain it as best as we could.
One bright spot in all this nervous-making anxiety is this flu might be the final key in unlocking true healthcare reform, albeit at a tragic and hefty price.