With over 1000 cases in Mexico and isolated cases in Canada and the United States, the World Health Organization lists their worry status as “very concerned.” Of course, for a populace trained for 8 years on color-coded terror alerts, the “very concerned” status is a bit vague – particularly given that no official body has recommended canceling that Mexican vacation. (UPDATE 4/28: that recommendation has now arrived.) Apparently, “very concerned” falls somewhere between “You’re more likely to be killed by a lightning strike” and “Get out the Michael Jackson masks and stay inside! Now!”
America had a previous swine flu scare in the ’70’s that led to a series of government-sponsored vaccinations against the potentially deadly disease. As it turns out, only one person died from swine flu that time around. But not to be outdone, the swine flu vaccinations killed 25 people and gave about 500 of them a serious disease before the vaccine program was halted.
30 years later, world government response protocols to a pandemic threat haven’t changed much. Bird flu led to talks of a widespread U.K. innoculation program to safeguard against it; America has also spent billions of dollars on contracts to produce vaccines against smallpox (the post-9/11-scare), SARS, bird flu, and pretty much any ailment making headlines and/or being referred to as a potential pandemic.
Baxter, one of the companies contracted to produce the swine flu vaccine this time around, is the same company that accidentally shipped vaccines tainted with live bird flu to 18 countries. The injections were used on ferrets and the mistake was discovered before an actual pandemic began due to the injections. The ferrets, however, were not so lucky.
With news of the latest swine flu outbreak taking the Internet by storm, getting information isn’t the problem. But getting good information is harder given the sheer volume of chatter. While “swine flu” is a trending topic today on Google and Twitter, the best source for 140-character swine flu instruction is probably best left to the CDC, which is in fact posting real-time updates via Twitter. For those who prefer a simple Q&A format, those are out there as well.
With all the pandemic T-shirts in the catalogue and the interest in pandemic preparedness, you might wonder whether we’re customizing disposable facemasks yet. We regrettably must inform those of you interested in fashioniable facemasks that we have no plans to add them to the catalogue at this point. However, for those of you crafty folks good with a needle and thread, we did find some interesting thongs that could perhaps be modified to suit your needs.
Caveat: we make no promises as to potential effectiveness of the thongmask in preventing infectious disease. If you have questions on the efficacy of such a thongmask, perhaps a tweet will reward you with a 140-character answer.
UPDATE: it’s been reported that the White House will advise against non-essential trips to Mexico.