...and just what you can do to prevent becoming infected by it should be issues of primary concern to you right now. Why primary concern, well if for no other reason than because the Department of Homeland Security is fumbling the ball once again or so it seems in the face of a possible pending disastor. The swine flu was once believed to have combined with bird flu in pigs and then subsequently was believed to have been transferred to humans causing the 1918 flu pandemic; and is still believed to be capable of causing the next pandemic we will face. You may recall just a couple or few years back there were great concerns among public health officials, politicians, and scientists worldwide (as presented by the media) that we would soon be facing a new flu pandemic. Hopefully this current outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, the southern border states of the USA and in New York City will not evolve into an epidemic or worse into a pandemic but hope means little in the case of such diseases, and this strain has already shown itself capable of being spread from person to person and thus all of the concern. So what is left to do beyond hope that will help you fend off such an illness?
There is probably not much that the government can do to protect us should an epidemic occur, but there are steps to be taken by government to try to prevent the spread of the disease and apparently they are serious about at least trying something: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20090426/swine_flu_20_us_cases_confirmed. If what they are doing will be enough only time will tell, but surely this already could have been handled better since they have been yammering about the possibility for at least the last few years now (but oh yes that was the Bush regime and why would the current kingdom take advice from them).
The government could possibly have done something to very good effect had good border security already been in place once the first cases of this were noted in Mexico and they could have completely closed the borders. The truth of the matter is though that we have piss poor border security and tens of thousands of illegal aliens flow across our borders daily like water through a breached levy. The flu is already here so trying to stop and contain it at the border will not work. Of course the government could prevent anyone else who is outside of our borders and who already has the flu from entering and thereby spreading it further through that route. To do so the president would need to (and in my opinion should) in essence declare martial law along our borders and deploy the military with orders of shoot to stop anyone trying to enter illegally. Legal border crossings also would have to be halted completely until the flu had run its course. Others things that the government could do to prevent the spread here in the USA would follow those that Mexico has already implemented (see: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,517737,00.html.) These would be to shut down schools and other places where people meet and spread diseases regularly such as child care centers. People would be requested or required to work from home instead of at the office whenever possible. Meeting places such as houses of worship could be closed (see also: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gzz357patY4-QaJFvo9O95zMM_EQD97Q9KAG0). People with the disease would likely be quarantined (either voluntarily or forcefully). Do you think this sounds far fetched? if so go to PandemicFlu.gov and read what they say. Here is a link where the G discusses it in an FAQ format: http://pandemicflu.gov/faq/planningresponse/pr-0019.html.
Granted, at PandemicFlu.gov, they were talking about avian flu; but if you lock at the current response of the government you will realize they are now just as concerned over the current outbreak of Swine Flu. Why is that, well if for no other reason that pigs are so closely related to humans and the disease is easily passed between the two. Yet this disease is even more worrisome because it is being so easily transmitted between humans. Even though the PandemicFlu.gov site was apparently mostly about avian flu, one quick glance will show you their top news on that site currently is all about this outbreak of swine flu. The government is worried; and if these indecisive fumbling politicians are that worried maybe we should be worried too. The difference between the government and us though is that we can actually take some steps to try to reduce the risk of us getting this disease and we can do it now. The government can try to reduce the risks but the thing is they have already waited too long, the borders should have been restricted years ago, and should have been closed as soon as news of deaths in Mexico were confirmed, and if not then well certainly once the strain here in the USA was confirmed as being the same as that in Mexico where over 1,000 people have been infected in virtually no time (see: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/24/swine.flu/index.html). Take this outbreak seriously, even if the government does not tell you to do so, and be prepared just in case it does begin to spread like wildfire.
So exactly what can we do? Well we can and should start to implement strict health precautions. Start washing your hands many times a day. Carry alcohol gel cleanser with you at all times. if you must shake another person's hand or if you come in body to body contact (such as if a doctor treating a patient or police officer searching a suspect) well then wash up immediately afterward. Go out and buy whatever type of respirator (protective respiratory mask like you use for sanding or spraying paint but made to control disease) that the CDC recommends to help contain this disease (one to prevent yourself from getting it and another to prevent yourself from giving it to another if you have it). Stock up on canned goods, dry goods, frozen foods, bottled water, water filters, medical supplies. Buy a portable radio and flashlights and make sure you have plenty of batteries. Buy candles and matches. If you are armed check your ammo supplies. Get a 90 day supply of whatever prescription meds you need and get it now if at all possible; don't wait for this as you certainly will want to avoid pharmacies during a major outbreak of flu if there is an actual epidemic or pandemic. Teach your families about how to avoid contact with others in order to avoid the flu. Avoid large meetings of people, avoid physical contact such as hand shaking and contact sports, avoid gyms, avoid houses of worship (you can pray at home with your family just as effectively as you can at church). You do not need to be hermits, at least not until an outbreak actually occurs, but safe health habits are a thing to consider as are what to do should this outbreak turn into an epidemic or pandemic.
Not convinced yet, think that I am just another fanatic, nut or doomsayer, well then read the info at this link: http://pandemicflu.gov/plan/pandplan.html. Pay careful attention to all of the info at that link and especially to the small chart at the end of that page. Compare the two columns, one showing the effects of a pandemic of a mild strain of flu and one show the effects of a 1918 type flu. The first two rows seem to give virtually the same numbers. Then you get to numbers of people who will likely need to be hospitalized - it is an staggering jump. Then you move on to those needing care in ICU, the increase in numbers is awesome. Finally you arrive at the number of deaths caused by a mild type of flu as opposed to a severe type of flu like that of the 1918 pandemic. If you read that and do not immediately start to take some type of precautions you are less than intelligent. Remember, I am not trying to get you to panic, but I am trying to get you to educate yourself about the possible outcomes of what we are now faced with and to get you to d something to protect yourself and your loved ones. It may be all for naught, the outbreak may subside quickly. Then again it may spread just as quickly. Which would you rather be a victim or a survivor. I know the answer, and since it appears there is something I can do to try to prevent catching this illness, well then, I am going to do it. I suggest you do the same and that you take this outbreak seriously and be prepared just in case it does begin to spread like wildfire.
Of course, not to far down the road, someone on the news will be asking a politician or a public health official if this is possibly related to terrorism. It will be a good question and is one that the government should be looking into already behind the scenes. If terrorism is suspected and confirmed then the only way to contain the outbreak and recurrence or further waves of the outbreak will be to stop the terrorists who are spreading it. Why? Because even if the disease stops naturally, they will have more of it to spread around again and again. Hopefully this is not the cause, hopefully even the terrorists are not that fucking stupid, but heck I just keep thinking of that move 12 Monkeys and the thought of this possibly having been spread intentionally chills me to the bone. Enough of that though, it is just conjecture about possibilities for now.
For more information on the current outbreak of swine flu, and the pandemic of 1918, and what you can do to try to protect yourselves, go to these reference links:
Stay healthy; and remember this is not a case of anyone saying the sky is falling, but it sure is one heck of a tornado warning so follow the advice of the Boy Scout motto: 'Be prepared'!
All the best,