Swine Flu 2009

So the latest word from the WHO (that’s the World Health Organization) is that we are inches away from our first global flu pandemic since 1968. One that has all the makings of a 1918/Stephen King version of Grim Reaperness.

Giddy yet?

I think a trip to the pharmacist to make sure I am loaded up on my asthma meds for the next little while is in order for tomorrow. I’ve been to the grocery. Cupboards and freezer are good though we could do with a few more things: personal products, paper products and the like. I am torn on cash. ATM’s would surely continue to work in the event of quarantine but is paper money a good idea in times of pandemic? I think the hygiene issue comes into play when handling currency, don’t you?

Oh, over-reacting, am I? Not like there is flu stalking our little burg, right?

Yeah, that we know of.

Thing about flu is that you can’t see it until its right on top of you. People from Canada travel to Mexico during the cold weather without much thought. It’s close and it’s cheap. Rob was remarking this morning that the Edmonton Airport was still flying people back and forth from Mexican destinations without any real safety precautions at all. Unlike the Americans and the Asians, we are not yet taking people’s temperature as they step off the plane.

There hasn’t been a reported case here – yet, but there hadn’t been any in Iowa when I read the Des Moines paper yesterday and today there are 150 possible cases. And that’s a pandemic, people. We all look fine until we are not.

But as I told Rob a little while ago as we chatted after lunch, as is our norm when we don’t see each other over the noon hour,

“We are going on vacation next week and if we come back to roadblocks and people in surgical masks – at least we’re well rested.”

So yesterday gay couples began readying to marry in Iowa, Swine Flu reached def-con 4 on its way to possible pandemic, our own military did a flyby of downtown Manhattan, and there was an earthquake of not insignificant magnitude near Mexico City of all places. Shouldn’t you get a pass on material devastation when you are already beset with plague?

Add all this on top of economic near collapse, impending food shortages and general world-wide instability and we should all be breaking into rounds of REM’s classic ode to the end of days.

Sunday as I was reporting yet another update to Rob on the growing scourge that is officially, pig-bird-human flu, he remarked,

“Why do you seem positively giddy about all this?”

Is my life that dull?

No, I really don’t know why this particular disaster, following as it does on the heals of one disaster too many in the last few months, should be perking my ears up. Could just be my latent Catholicism showing. I was raised on the idea that the world would grind to a glorious halt only after much hardships and suffering had been meted out to snare as many last minute repentants as possible. Or it could just be the survivor in me hears a call to arms.

You don’t want to live in interesting times, do you? Shouldn’t it send you scurrying?

Mom left a message for me while I was out this morning. Her voice was a bit strained when she asked if I had heard about the travel restrictions.

Restrictions? The warnings I’d read about seemed awfully non-committal in terms of warnings. Not exactly “thou shalt not” in nature. More like guidelines. The U.S. was advising that non-essential travel to Mexico be put off, but if they really thought it was dangerous, they’d simply forbid it. After all, Americans haven’t been able to go to Cuba for 40 some years for lesser reasons than a potentially lethal highly infectious disease. If the great American Powers wanted to cage its citizens and lock out the world – it could.

I assured Mom that it was too soon to really know if we were facing a pandemic and that it was too late really for containment. We had probably all come in contact with someone who’d been to the epicenter recently by some degree or other. We would either get sick or not and since she wasn’t supposed to travel up here until late in June, there was still plenty of time to cancel.

So, am I “giddy”? I don’t have reason to be other than this is certainly interesting to the writer in me, but as an asthmatic, in a scary ass Stephen King-ish flu pandemic, I am toast. No doubt about that. I don’t have the lung strength or resiliency, so not really giddy. It would make a great novel though.