soldier handing out masks in Mexico City
by -Chupacabras- from flickr
As the threat of swine flu has raised cautionary responses, from handing out face masks to travel warnings from the US government, and as other nations warn against travel to Mexico AND the US, people are asking what this sudden development means.
Is it a normal outbreak of a disease as the world has seen since time immemorial?
The question my title asks is not about cancer. It is about intention. Some suggest that this flu is no natural phenomenon, that it was caused by man, either unintentionally, or...
Was it caused or exacerbated by conditions created by factory farms?
Has globalization increased the risks of disease threats like this?
Is the outbreak a Beta Test for bioterrorism? Conspiracy theory website Prison Planet suggests that's the case.
Is the media fanning a firestorm of panic and fear? It looks like across the spectrum, from mainstream media to left, it's one of the top stories, and has pushed discussion of torture hearings and prosecutions from the front pages of most media.
Dailykos' top recommended story is: Republicans Stripped Pandemic Flu Preparedness From Stimulus
The NY Times has an article, Flu Outbreak Raises a Set of Questions, which notes that the US has only reported 20 mild cases, and the article observes,
ut in Mexico, where the outbreak began, swine flu is believed to have killed at least 81 people and to have given about 1,300 serious breathing problems. The central question every flu expert in the world would like answered, Dr. Martin Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for the Centers for Disease Control, said in an interview, is how many mild cases Mexico has had.
“We may just be looking at the tip of the iceberg, which would give you a skewed initial estimate of the case fatality rate,” he said, meaning that there may have been tens of thousands of mild infections, which would then make the number of deaths seemingly low. In that case, as the flu spreads, it would not be surprising if the number of people who become seriously ill remained relatively small.
Right now, the answer is unknowable. Only two laboratories the world, the C.D.C. in Atlanta and the Canadian national laboratory in Winnipeg, have developed the reagents needed to do a positive test for the new flu strain, so samples from any other country must be sent to them for confirmation.
Even in 1918, experts point out, the pandemic Spanish flu infected at least 500 million of the world’s 1.5 billion people, killing 50 million. Many of those lives would have been saved if anti-flu drugs, antibiotics and mechanical ventilators had existed.
As an editor, part of my job is to balance the available information AND the speculation to decide how to cover this story. My senior editorial team has done the yeoman's share of the work here, helping to evaluate stories and articles coming in reporting facts, speculations and fantasies about swine flu. Here's the link to the articles, diaries, comments on OpEdNews.com so far.
The results are not in. This could be a frightening situation with dire possibilities and the theories are flying. The comments section below is a great place to add your links, theories and facts to flesh out the full picture. OpEdNews.com is a bottom up media site where the members play an essential role in covering the full story. Let's really make it happen here.