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June 17, 2009 / JV

Overdue Post on Swine Flu: The Mexican Disease

Swine flu is Mexico’s SARS.

sars1

It has presented an opportunity to racialize another illness the same way we did HIV and multiple other ailments that don’t bare as much consequence because they aren’t communicable (osteoporosis, sickle cell anemia, etc).

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6, which indicates a “pandemic period” and is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus in at least two countries in a WHO region, in addition to community level outbreaks in another country in a different WHO region. Basically, as Michael Fumento points out: “‘community-wide outbreaks’ of swine flu in two South American countries and somewhere in China could qualify as a pandemic. No deaths required. And a pure human flu that killed 20 million people would not qualify.”

Since the H1N1 swine flu was found in April, there have been a reported 27,000 cases, including 141 deaths worldwide.

More than 80 times that many people have died within the last 6 months in the U.S. alone from the ordinary, run-of-the-mill seasonal flu. Annually, the “regular” flu kills an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide and causes 36,000 deaths in the United States. Looks like swine flu has a lot of catching up to do if it’s to live up to its hype.

swine_flu_toronto

Is swine flu just fuel for right wing anti-immigrant bandwagons as Tim Wise suggests? How justified is the international anxiety? And could this be about building a wall along the border and deporting people, or gaining momentum for some much needed health care legislation?

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3 Comments

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  1. latra / Jun 22 2009 2:09 pm

    i have this feeling that the swine flu is viewed very differently in the states than it is here, in large part due to yalls relationship with mexico. up here it’s spreading like wildfire through our reserves, prompting me to think that it’s some scary virus that affects indigenous populations more severely.
    and yeah, granted it hasn’t killed all that many people, but the people it is killing seem to be otherwise healthy youth and young adults… which is disturbing in and of itself.

    • the black scientist / Jun 25 2009 9:02 pm

      i think the US has a different relationship to swine flu than most countries, partially because media likes to sensationalize. it’s a lot calmer now than it was say a month or so ago, but at first, there was some serious anxiety surrounding this deadly flu from mexico. i think the only thing making it peculiar is the fact that, like you mentioned, it’s killing younger and otherwise healthy adults. that is extremely disturbing. i wasn’t aware that it was spreading through the reservations there though.. i don’t think that’s happening in the states…

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