Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aaaaand.....BOOM goes the spread of disease!

Is the US prepared for Swine Fluapalooza '09? By now we've all heard about the potential for a global pandemic stemming from the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, but is the United States ready to control the flu if outbreaks start from within our own borders? Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary says 'yes'.

Today Napolitano declared a public health emergency for the US to free up resources to deal with a fly outbreak. It's very similar to when the President delcares a federal disaster area of hurricanes, floods or tornados. These resources include straetgically placing 7 million doses of the anti-viral Tamiflu around the US by the DoD.

The pandemic threat level, according to the World Health Organization is currently at Level 3 of 6, which denotes limited human transmission. Officials expect the pandemic threat level to surpass Level 3 very soon. Currently, the US State Department have not issued any travel advisories to Mexico, but Napolitano did not rule out that possibility. Cases of the swine flu have been reported in Ohio, Texas, California, Kansas and New York.

So is the United States properly prepared for a potential pandemic? While government incompetence was on display during the Katrina debacle, officials seem to have their ducks in a row with this. Or maybe that's just because I don't know anything about the spread of disease and whether we're properly prepared or not, but it at least seems like the proper precautions are being taken. Like the bird flu or SARS, we'll be innundated with lots of fatalistic Dateline and Today Show specials showing the toll of the spread of global disease would look like. So it should be interesting the next few weeks.

I'm going to Wal-Mart to get some masks. Want me to pick you one up?

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