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April 28, 2009

Babe, you SWINE.

They say life imitates art; and lord knows, life and art are both getting spookier, literally.

Two weeks back, an episode of BBC's spy-drama Spooks, had a biological weapon scare. The storyline had a train bombed in Teheran that releases a dangerous virus. The virus creates an international scare as people in Iran and those infected in the UK start dying. The virus is transmitted from person-to-person through coughing, sneezing and merely being in contact with someone infected with the virus.

Sounds familiar?Now we hear about the swine-flu outbreak.

There are 149 dead in Mexico (The Age, Oz), there are 40 confirmed infections in the US; and the infection has spread to the United Kingdom and Spain* (Washington Post, US) as well. According to latest figures, there are 10 suspected cases (ABC News, Oz) in Queensland, Australia. All this has lead to the World Health Organisation considering raising the alert level to a higher digit. Currently, the WHO has declared it a level four flu pandemic (The Guardian, UK).

While the US, UK, Australia and Europe have declared an emergency and are warning citizens and manning airports -- Munich and Frankfurt airports are distributing swine flu informational leaflets -- the Indian government has issued a mild warning.

Before writing this post, I checked these Indian newspapers and news websites: Times of India, Hindustan Times, NDTV and IbnLive.
All four sites are currently reporting wrong figures from Mexico and US. Given that all four sites have staff/editorial on night shifts, it is inexcusable. It is also silly that when there is an outbreak of global proportions, actor Feroze Khan's death has been given more prominence on at least two sites (Ibn and NDTV). The best coverage so far -- though with wrong figures -- is on Times of India, which has at least put the swine flu story on the No. 2 slot on its website.

Many people will say that since the deaths are (currently) restricted to Mexico and reported cases are in the US, UK and Spain, it is perhaps no cause for India/Indians to worry. However, the number of Indians travelling to and back from those countries has been increasing.

According to data published by Euromonitor International, the number of Indians travelling from India is set to rise by 132 % by 2011, with the US being the most preferred destination. Given that soon it will be summer vacation time and families will be planning trips: Should there not be more on the swine flu in the Indian media?

For those readers who live in Canada and the US: PLEASE take care. For those of you planning to travel, if you can change your plans, please defer. First there's AIDS, then Ebola, then the bird flu and now the swine flu. A virus that is still mutating. And we, as humans, the most susceptible targets as our immune system cannot fight the virus on its own.

PS: Just heard from a Mexican pal at uni that Mexico suffered an earthquake this morning. Apparently the joke going around in Mexico is:
What did Mexico city say to the pig flu?
Ooh, I am shaking.

Please be well. For more information, refer to the news reports/links above or check here:
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
WHO Swine Influenza FAQs (pdf)
* Sign-in required for Washington Post.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.salon.com/env/vital_signs/2009/04/27/swine_flu/

Eve* aka JB said...

@ Anonymous: thanks for the link.

Anyone knows anymore, paste the links here. Cheers.

LATEST UPDATE: Mexico also had an earthquake this morning. Poor guys.

Sree said...

I had just pulled my neck out of reading about this last nite.And this also comes at a time when my lil one announced her likeness for pepperoni.I'm worried.Did u see that pic where ppl are travelling with masks on!Remember chikungunya!Ok..i'll be careful and not worry too much but just enough.

Anonymous said...

Hello! This is Anonymous again, crawling out of the woodwork. I'm living in the UK right now and swine flu is a bit scary, but only wanted to reassure Sree that you can't get it from eating pork products!
Here is another link proving it- http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm
Cheers!

Sree said...

Hello Anonymous,:p will remember u on thanks giving.I was reply starved.

My state just reported the first case of swine flu :(

Sree said...

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Interactive-Graphics/Swine-Flu-Map

Shanks said...

Nice Post.
But you belittled your views by the crappy joke at the last.
Its human lifes which are being lost, and its not a joking matter.

Eve* aka JB said...

@ shanks: hi. appreciate you views. however, that joke is currently going around in Mexico and was shared by someone who belongs to Mexico. We both agreed that when Mexican people are getting such a battering it shows their spirit.

MaxJayJay said...

Speaking of Babe and Swine Flu, look what CollegeHumor cooked up.

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1909705