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Flu Fear Factor

26 April 2009

As more information came in, (as as I felt like it), this post has been updated and changed from it’s original post on 26 April.

Patient Zero?

Saturday, Jennifer Rose, (Staring at Strangers ) wrote:

There were more confirmed reports of malaria in New York City during 2007 than confirmed cases of swine flu in all of Mexico City.

This may still hold true, but, given new information — and more reported deaths in Mexico — I’m not sure the statistics will hold up.  However, it looks like we now know the culprit… SMITHFIELD’s Granjas Carroll hog operation (posting Tuesday morning)outside La Gloria, Veracruz.  Smithfield, of course, is claiming now that the flu is a Chinese disease that came into Mexico from the United States.  Which, excuse the expression, sounds like hogwash.

On Thursday (29 April), The Independent (U.K.) narrowed in on this pandemic’s version of Typhoid Mary… in this case, Swine Flu Maria:

Maria Adela Gutierrez, a census-taker in the southern tourist city of Oaxaca, was admitted to a local hospital on 8 April and died five days later. She’d been suffering acute respiratory problems, exacerbated by diabetes and severe diarrhoea, and is believed to have infected scores of people.

Fancy that… the person who died already had a severe illness.

Yazmín Ortega Cortés took this photo Saturday night, when there should be a few hundred folks hanging out.  Blockbuster is making a killing this weekend.

Yazmín Ortega Cortés took this photo Saturday night, when there should be a few hundred folks hanging out. Blockbuster is making a killing this weekend.

What did we know, and when did we know about it?

One of the usual anti-Mexican slurs is that the Mexican government did too little, too late. Sorry to burst that particular bubble, but as the Washington Post (not exactly a Mexican propaganda organ) reported Sunday:

U.S. public health officials did not know about a growing outbreak of swine flu in Mexico until nearly a week after that country started invoking protective measures, and didn’t learn that the deaths were caused by a rare strain of the influenza until after Canadian officials did.

Do you think this might have something to do with both Mexico and Canada having universal national health care programs?

Panic in the streets

(Sunday):  El Debate de Sinaloa uses the word sicosis to describe reaction in Mazatlan… where people have been buying up face masks and clearing out vitamin shelves at the local pharmacies.  Taking your vitamins, drinking plenty of fluids and washing your hands regularly are pretty basic health measures at any time, but there’s no rationale for people to panic, or assume that every rumor they hear is true… or every suspicious death is swine flu.

Daniel Hernandez (Intersections) on the paranoia (sicosis) in the Capital:

Now, this is the sort of atmosphere some of us have most feared, health worries aside: An already heavy-handed federal government in Mexico issued an ominous decree on Saturday, saying it reserves the right to hold and quarantine anyone, enter and search any public or private establishment, and more or less do whatever it deems necessary to stop the virus from spreading.

Which makes you wonder if this is really Mexico’s “worst nightmare.” As of right now, 1,000 cases are reported in the country, with more than 60 being fatal, mostly in Mexico City and with other deaths blamed on swine flu in neighboring states. Meanwhile, the federal health secretariat website is currently down.


(Houston Chronicle, 25-April):

A big question is: Just how deadly is the virus in Mexico?

The seasonal flu tends to kill just a fraction of 1 percent of those infected.

In Mexico, about 70 deaths out of roughly 1,000 cases represents a fatality rate of about 7 percent. …The Mexican rate sounds terrifying. But it’s possible that far more than 1,000 people have been infected with the virus and that many had few if any symptoms, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a prominent pandemic expert at the University of Minnesota. U.S. health officials echoed him.

“In Mexico, they were looking for severe diseases and they found some.

Flu season lasted a little longer this year, and we’re getting into the start of dengue season (which, with a changing climate starts earlier every year); Semana Santa was late this year, meaning a lot of people were in dengue-prone regions (the coasts) recently, and people are getting swine flu.  How many, it’s not clear, but so far, the confirmed cases are only within Mexico City (which is taking severe measures to contain the problem) and San Luis Potosi.  Add to that the usual problem with air pollution in Mexico City this time of year (which creates a spike in repiratory illnesses).

Nacha Cattan in Sunday’s The [Mexico City] News:

Officials said Saturday that the death toll from swine flu in Mexico may have risen as high as 81 and they announced stepped-up measures to confront the epidemic that has now seen as many as 1,324 probable cases being tested for the new strain.

Health Secretary José Angel Córdova said lab tests will determine if the new brand of the flu is responsible in all of the cases.

So far, 20 deaths from the swine flu have been confirmed. The reported numbers have risen since Friday, when health officials said they had detected 1,004 possible infections and a maximum of 68 flu-related deaths. In addition, Córdova said all schools will remain closed until at least May 6 in Mexico City, State of Mexico and San Luis Potosí while authorities struggle to contain the epidemic.

Elephants on parade

The United States is missing a few key players in its own attempts to respond to the flu pandemic.  From Americablog News:

Last week, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell started a filibuster to prevent confirmation of Obama’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], Kathleen Sebelius…

Today, at the White House briefing, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was there as was John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. They were joined by the Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But, we don’t even have a head of CDC because the Secretary of HHS appoints that person. And, no Secretary of HHS. In fact, as the White House transcript shows, Napolitano had to make the announcement about the “public health emergency” for HHS.

Related flu posts:

Capitalist swine!

¡No tenemos dinero!

Nafta and flu… porked by agrobiz

Pandemic Pandemonium Pendejos

Flu Update (and more Pendejos)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 April 2009 4:58 pm

    La Voz de Michoacan called it “sicosis,” too.

  2. julydogs permalink
    26 April 2009 7:24 pm

    Despite the rationales, this is going to render a huge negative impact.

  3. Dan permalink
    28 April 2009 9:07 am

    This seems to be a rather infantile post. Where has the U.S. blamed Mexico for the flu!!

    Why would anyone be to blame for a new strain of flu. Flu virusas mutate all the time and do so all over the world.

  4. 28 April 2009 12:21 pm

    Where? Fox News for starters. Several U.S. political commentators have “blamed” Mexico for the flu (see Meda Matters —, but I don’t see where I’m saying anyone is blaming Mexico. I AM reporting that Smithfield is making claims that the flu started in the U.S., but that’s Smithfield’s infantilism, not mine.

  5. 28 April 2009 3:10 pm

    I have a conference call with American lawyers discussing whether to cancel a bar meeting in Cabo San Lucas, which bears about as much relation to Mexico City as Maui does to Washington, D.C. The sheeple are reciting what they’ve read in USA Today, insisting that all of Mexico is under siege, all restaurants have closed, and the borders are about to snap shut in any minute. They ignore me, and they ignore a very connected Mexican lawyer, proudly stating that they prefer to place their confidence in what the CDC, State Department and the U.S. military are telling them. They fear that someone suddenly might slap their sorry asses into quarantine, and that they might bring disease and chaos back home to their loved ones in Indiana.


  1. Don’t Panic « Ten Percent
  2. Fun and profit from pandemics « The Mex Files
  3. Flu posts « The Mex Files

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