Okay, there’s no need to panic, but the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico may well be cause for concern. But hopefully not too much of one:

So swine flu has come out of nowhere. It has unfortunately killed some people, and analysis shows it’s a brand-new virus with unknown potential to kill many more.

That doesn’t mean we can kiss civilization good-bye, or damn and blast the World Health Organization for not doing what we think it should. This strain of H1N1 is an interesting, and probably serious, new virus. The Mexicans seem to be doing the best they can, with limited resources and in a bad recession. We may end up thanking them for courageous decisions that cost them dearly.

But thanks or blame are both premature. We have only a handful of cases, and an even smaller number of deaths. In tracking H5N1, I’ve always thought: As long as we can count the dead, we’re OK. We can still count the dead, and mourn them.

We can also count the living, including eight kids in New York City. Every one of them is a promise that this may be less than a catastrophe…maybe even a wonderful anticlimax, where we all, around May 30, ask ourselves: “What were we so upset about?”

That’s the hope. And it’s important to keep things in perspective. So far, 81 people are dead, and roughly 1500 people are infected worldwide. Those numbers aren’t remotely close to pandemic levels. The fact that we’ve identified this outbreak this early gives us a chance to get it locked down and keep it from becoming a serious health concern. We hope.

Of course, because the outbreak started in Mexico, Michelle Malkin is sprinkling her bile into the discussion:

I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration. We’ve heard for years from reckless open-borders ideologues who continue to insist there’s nothing to worry about. And we’ve heard for years that calling any attention to the dangers of allowing untold numbers of people to pass across our borders and through our other ports of entry without proper medical screening — as required of every legal visitor/immigrant to this country — is RAAAACIST.

Sigh. As Crawford Kilian notes, “Cases outside Mexico have all been brought home by legitimate tourists who could afford travel to Mexico from places as remote as New Zealand and Israel.” This has absolutely nothing to do with immigration. I suppose we can quarantine Mexico completely — though frankly, the train’s out of the station here — but to what end?

It’s remarkably hateful that someone can look at what is, at best, a catastrophe that has killed dozens, and see only a tool to use against Mexican immigrants. There is a word for that kind of worldview, and yes, Michelle, it is racist, a word that describes you to a T.

As for those of us who view this public health crisis as a public health crisis, the smart things to do right now are the smart things to do all the time. Wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer, be conscious of illness and go to the doctor if you’re sick (unless, of course, you don’t have insurance — then feel free to spread it willy-nilly to everyone and their twin sister). And take a deep breath, because this probably is not the long-feared flu pandemic. Or so we hope.

This entry posted in Immigration, Migrant Rights, etc, In the news, Latin America. Bookmark the permalink. 

15 Responses to H1N1

  1. 1
    PG says:

    It’s also worth noting that “open borders” is a slight misnomer. No one, including the WSJ editorial page, actually advocates an “open border” through which anyone can pass without being checked by government officials. Rather, people described as favoring “open borders” actually are in favor of quota-less migration, in which anyone who wants to come to the U.S. and meets the most basic requirements (does not have an infectious condition like TB or swine flu, and is not a criminal suspect) would automatically get a visa to do so. In other words, make everyone a legal visitor/migrant to this country. It’s no more “open border” than America’s borders were before 1924, when white people could come to the U.S. without ever having gotten a visa, so long as they got past the Ellis Island screening.

    If we had quota-less migration, we rationally could shoot people on sight for trying to swim across the Rio Grande or otherwise enter this country without passing through official checkpoints, because there would be no good reason for them to be doing so: people who wanted to work, or visit family, or go shopping, would all be able to do those things with visa in hand and the blessing of the U.S. Border Control. I’m not sure we should shoot people on sight, but it wouldn’t be as morally wrong as it is today, when a person being smuggled into the U.S. is infinitely more likely to be looking for work or reuniting family than trying to commit a crime.

  2. 2
    sanabituranima says:

    I just sneezed

    I’m doomed.

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  4. 3
    PG says:

    Alert on “I’m not being racist, I’m just fighting the forces of PC!” — the new thing among conservatives is to call it “Mexican flu.”

  5. 4
    Anonymous says:

    If you are immune-compromised, stay away from crowds period until more is known and take extra precautions. Also a travel warning to Mexico is forthcoming for people in the U.S. but there may be a travel warning *to* the U.S. from other countries coming also. A dialysis blogger has called it the Flu of the Americas which makes a whole lot more sense. Here: http://www.billpeckham.com/from_the_sharp_end_of_the/2009/04/flu-of-the-americas.html

  6. 5
    chingona says:

    And the Mexico-bashing continues.

  7. 6
    PG says:


    That cartoon managed to blow my mind even by its own standards because of the inclusion of “guns” in the listing of how Mexico is a bad neighbor to America. WTF?! Is this like how Mr. Smith, who keeps a fully-loaded arsenal in an unlocked closet, complains about how the neighbor Jones kids got Smith’s gun all oily when Smith’s kids gave them to the Jones kids to play with and the Jones kids accidentally blew their own heads off? Yes, clearly in this scenario, the Joneses are to blame for being bad neighbors to poor Mr. Smith.

  8. 7
    chingona says:

    And they put the pyramid in the wrong place.

  9. 8
    Rahkan says:

    Illegal immigrants might be safer than legal ones, from a global pandemic standpoint, since I don’t think they visit their country of origin as often. Of course, that might be counterbalanced by their unwillingness to miss work (due to a lack of job protections) or go to a doctor (due to a lack of health insurance).

  10. 9
    Jeff Fecke says:

    Of course, that might be counterbalanced by their unwillingness to miss work (due to a lack of job protections) or go to a doctor (due to a lack of health insurance).

    Sadly, that doesn’t distinguish undocumented workers from many legal immigrant workers. Or, for that matter, many native workers.

  11. 10
    steve wayne says:

    This thing does not look good H1N1 anything that can spread this fast deserves due consideration – over 90 dead to date and 1800 infected (known). Mexico stopping international flights Emirates and Etihad are now Vizexon fogging all aircraft – this is serious – NHS UK looking at fogging all ITUs

  12. 11
    DaisyDeadhead says:

    I am calling it CARNIVORE FLU or maybe FACTORY FARMING FLU.

    Let’s make sure we put the blame EXACTLY where it belongs.


    Swine Flu lesson: STOP BUTCHERING ANIMALS!!!!

  13. 12
    Radfem says:

    There’s 49 cases in my county now but it’s not “swine flu” because it’s like people said, containing DNA from three different species. As for not butchering animals, that might or might prevent porcine virus DNA from combining but then you still have the equally formidable avian DNA. And I remember with the avian virus several years back, there was a lot of discussion about how bird migratory patterns might affect its spread.

    We live in a world where those flu germs love to hang out and exchange DNA at their own version of singles’ bars. The flu appears milder than some other Influenza A strains but it’s worrisome b/c a mild strain in spring followed by an inactive summer followed by a more virulent influenza outbreak in the autumn would mirror “Spanish” flu. I was reading that like “Spanish” flu, it targets younger aged people and that exposure to the pandemic of 1957 might provide some protection against it in older people.

    It could just be a milder flu that spreads. Flu kills a lot of people. Not a high mortality rate but a fairly infectious rate.

  14. 13
    Radfem says:

    As far as where it came from, who knows? Mexico is one possible ground zero but there’s cases in the U.S. that weren’t tied to Mexican travel or to people who were so it might be too early to tell.

  15. 14
    Joe says:

    I appreciate the concern for people with the “Flu of the Americas” and am also hopeful that we can be gentle with each other, both those who have strong feelings and those who don’t.

    Simply following some simple, reasonable infection control principals will protect most people. Contact your physician/PA/NP for advice if you need assistance.