The dreaded and occasionally fatal Swine Flu has closed the near-north side suburb of Cibolo, in a stunning display of over-reaction by local and CDC officials:
State health officials have shut down Steele High School in Cibolo, where a third student now is sick with what is thought to be a new swine flu virus — one that has raised fears of a pandemic in both the United States and Mexico. The school will remain closed for at least a week, with extracurricular activities canceled and students asked not to socialize while school is out.
At a hastily called news conference at Schertz City Hall on Saturday, the health official leading the investigation also asked other Guadalupe County residents to avoid public gatherings for the next week, but said it was too soon to extend any similar recommendation to nearby San Antonio.
“We are asking persons in Guadalupe County to be respectful of their neighboring counties, and if they are ill or if their family members are ill, that they remain in Guadalupe County — more specifically at home — until everyone has recovered,” said Dr. Sandra Guerra, regional medical director of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The recommendation to close the school was made after a third student at the school became ill. All three students suffered a mild form of the illness, and the first two have recovered completely. “We had initially two (students) that thankfully have recovered and are doing well, as are all their family members,” Guerra said. “But we have also learned of a third case that is a probable case also of swine flu. At this point, the thing that these persons all had in common was the location of the school.”
While state health officials said they hoped to contain the infection to Guadalupe County, Schuchat said containment was impossible given the unrelated cases so widely scattered in Texas, California and Mexico.
The virus, which contains an unusual combination of genetic material from both animals and people, is in the same A/H1N1 family of flu viruses seen during many flu seasons. Symptoms of both swine flu and seasonal flu are the same, and two antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, seem to lessen the severity of the illness if taken shortly after symptoms begin.
Texas requested 37,430 doses of antiviral drugs from the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile to use if needed, Gov. Rick Perry’s office said Saturday. “As a precautionary measure, I have requested that medication be on hand in Texas to help curb the spread of swine flu by helping those with both confirmed and suspected cases of this swine flu virus, as well as health care providers who may have come in contact with these patients,” Perry said.
A CDC specialist was sent to San Antonio and was assisting state and local personnel in the probe, which involves tracking down, interviewing and testing people with flulike illness — particularly at the 14 schools in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District. Eight students at Steele had been absent since April 11 and were part of the investigation.
Color me skeptical, but is seems like a gross over-reaction when we’re closing an entire county’s schools for only eight students at a single school. Think for a second — when was the last time you heard of entire schools being closed and church services canceled for the flu? We haven’t even confirmed the strain of this flu — if it’s the same flu as what’s happening in Mexico, or a mutation (which can happen fairly quckly with flu strains.)
Local author Marcus Henderson Wilder (who has a new book on Israel & Palestine out now — shouldn’t you be reading it?) e-mailed me: “I paid $9.29 for 50 face masks at (alocal drug store chain) this afternoon. If there is a swine flu scare, there could be a run on face masks.” (That’s roughly double the usual price for face masks. The run may have already begun.)
Now in Mexico they have a real problem going on:
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Churches stood empty Sunday in heavily Roman Catholic Mexico City after services were canceled, and health workers screened airports and bus stations for people sickened by a new strain of swine flu that experts fear could become a global epidemic.
Mayor Marcelo Ebrardo said two more people died of swine flu overnight in the overcrowded capital, and three other deaths are suspected to have been caused by the strain. Another 73 more people were hospitalized with influenza, possible swine flu.
President Felipe Calderon has assumed new powers to isolate people infected with the deadly swine flu strain that health officials say has killed up to 86 people and likely sickened about 1,400 in the country since April 13.
The flu has spread beyond Mexico’s borders with 20 confirmed cases in five U.S. states and suspected cases as far away as New Zealand.
Our church service at Journey Fellowship was canceled today as well at the request of authorities in Cibolo. As Michelle Malkin noted, “Hey, maybe we’ll finally get serious about borders now.”
The AP offers this blurp about a glance at the last three pandemics:
– 1918. The Spanish flu pandemic that started in 1918 was possibly the deadliest outbreak of all time. It was first identified in the U.S., but became known as the Spanish flu because it received more media attention in Spain than in other countries, which were censoring the press during World War I. The 1918 flu was an H1N1 strain – different from the one currently affecting Mexico and the U.S. – and struck mostly healthy young adults. Experts estimate it killed about 40 to 50 million people worldwide.
– 1957. The 1957 pandemic was known as the Asian flu. It was sparked by an H2N2 strain and was first identified in China. There were two waves of illness during this pandemic; the first wave mostly hit children while the second mostly affected the elderly. It caused about 2 million deaths globally.
– 1968. The most recent pandemic, known as the Hong Kong flu, was the mildest of the three pandemics this century. It was first spotted in Hong Kong in 1968 and it spread globally over the next two years. The people most susceptible to the virus were the elderly. About 1 million people are estimated to have been killed by this pandemic, an H3N2 flu strain.
The 1918 Spanish Flu was, however, a pandemic to rival the Black Plague. Perhaps the first true global outbreak influenza, I’ve heard more than one historian say that the 1918 Armistice was due more to the loss of manpower from the flu outbreak than to anything else. One source claimed 20 million dead worldwide.
THAT is a pandemic. And while I understand the need for caution in the face of such a pandemic, I feel caution can most certainly be overdone — particularly by a neo-Marxist government engaged in confiscatory taxation that mandates “volunteerism.”
Yeah, I’m worried — but not for the same reasons the Obama administration is. I’m more worried ABOUT the Obama Administration.