Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and render you dead.

"Give not that which is kodesh unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and render" you dead.

This 2009 image taken through a microscope and provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shows the H1N1 strain of the swine flu virus.

The 1918 global epidemic, killed more people (approx. 40 million), worldwide, in 25 weeks, than the total number of people who succumbed to AIDS in 25-years. In other words, pandemics occur with very little warning, and moves with a lightning swiftness that leaves those in power, powerless to stop the disease's deadly rampage. The only way to lessen the impact of a pandemic of this sort is if people visit their doctor as soon as suspicious signs of infection appear.

Currently, the triple hybrid influenza (incorporates human, avian and swine genes in its DNA), or commonly referred to as the swine flu outbreak, has descended upon us, and barring the worst possible scenario - deadly pandemic similar to 1918 - this may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Supposedly, this strain, the H1N1 flu, lacks the deadly characteristics of the strains involved in previous pandemics.

However, flu viruses are known for their unpredictability because they can mutate rapidly at any time, and a new study has found that "some pigs in Indonesia are carrying the H5N1 avian flu virus, which could mutate into a new strain inside the pigs, and the potential new strain could be more virulent than the current outbreak." On the other hand, the virus can also mutate to a more benign form.

Blessing in disguise?

Our nation's lack of health-care insurance and a badly neglected public health-care infrastructure will only discourage people from seeking care until it's too late to contain the virus in the event of a severe pandemic (if that event is not already here). Assuming, this is not the big one, we should heed its warning, and implement universal health-care sooner than possible.

"From SARS to avian flu to the current escalating outbreaks of swine influenza it has become increasingly clear that we are risking a major catastrophe unless we act to restore the safety net, and devote the resources that are needed to protect the public." -- Deborah Burger, co-president, CNA/NNOC
Tracking swine flu cases worldwide.


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