Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu: The Pandemic Du Jour

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 12:56 PM

click to enlarge Should we be worried about pot-bellied pigs, too?
  • Should we be worried about pot-bellied pigs, too?
Any reporter who's walked any sort of public safety beat has probably written the requisite pandemic readiness story: On what timetable will vaccines be ready for staggered distribution? How will far-flung towns supply themselves if trucking grinds to a halt? And how many vaccines will be left for everyone else after first responders and health care providers have been dosed up?

In the mid-Aughts, flocks of birds became menacing, winged vectors. Now we're looking at decidedly un-Kosher, filthy vehicles for the virus: Pigs. The CDC is already calling the European Union's travel advisory "unwarranted," which in bureaucrat-speak can be translated to mean "shenanigans." So how many times can public health officials cry "bird" or "pig" or, maybe some day, "kitten," before the public becomes inured to portentous cable news clamoring over the latest pandemic threat?

We had a swine flu scare at Fort Dix in 1976. One soldier died and several others were hospitalized. President Gerald Ford launched a mass vaccination program, hastily concocting a vaccine that, in the end, was worse than the flu itself, causing about 500 cases of  Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

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