Wednesday, April 29, 2009

(Updated) When Do The Locusts Arrive?

The call came about an hour after I had turned in. I fumbled for the phone and heard this message:

Four University of Delaware students have been identified with mild cases of influenza that meet the probable definitions for swine flu. UD students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms are advised to go to the Student Health Center.

And so I had to dodge a half dozen television satellite news trucks on my bike ride to campus this rainy morning as the Big News of the Moment hit awfully close to home.

The good news is that the four students have been treated and sent home, a joint university-state-CDC clinic has been opened at the Student Health Center, the campus emergency alert system worked as intended and . . . well, life goes on.
* * * * *
I have hesitated to big foot into the swine flu story because I well know from experience that stories like this go unexpected places.

Even at this relatively early date some of the outbreak vectors are weird, notably that an inordinate number of seemingly healthy adults are being affected as opposed to usual influenza victims -- the young, elderly and infirm. And of course many more people have the virus at this point than have been tested.

But I do know a couple, three things:

* It is not too early to start paying attention. Translation: Don't panic, but be sure to wash your hands.

* The state of public health in this country -- from awareness to training to funding -- is scandalous, and before this crisis runs its course we will once again be reminded of that. And do nothing about it.

* Trying to make Republicans somehow complicitous because they led the effort to strip the stimulus package of funding for flu pandemic preparedness research is ridiculous.

As well as a pungent example of why right-of-center bloggers do not have the franchise on writing stupid things.

Top photograph by Kathy Atkinson

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