Trying to stay on top of the latest pandemic scare is a full-time job, and not mine necessarily, but I have read several informative and interesting articles and posts that I have summarized below. In pretty much every case, these posts/articles include some great information and debate in the comments section.
BIOSURVEILLANCE: Swine Flu in Mexico- Timeline of Events – In addition to briefly explaining how Veratect is set up to track animal and human infectious disease events, this post provides a time line of the swine flu outbreak beginning on March 30, 2009.
USDA: Statement by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack Regarding Human Cases of Swine Influenza A (H1N1) – Short statement assuring U.S. citizens that the swine flu virus is not transmitted by food, e.g., eating pork or pork products.
MOTHER JONES: Swine Flu: Bringing Home the Bacon – With every pandemic scare, there is much to gain…if you happen to be a big pharmaceutical company with certain patented drugs. This article flashes back to the avian flu scare in 2005 and projects potential winners and losers in 2009’s swine flu scare.
GRIST: Swine-flu outbreak linked to Smithfield factory farms – Points out the lack to date of the mainstream media specifically mentioning potential connection between Smithfield’s Perote pig CAFO and the swine flu outbreak. Of course, we are seeing plenty of federal officials telling the masses that everything is okay. And, on Twitter, I received a tweet from the Iowa Farm Bureau claiming that CAFOs are not the cause. Let the finger pointing begin.
HUFFINGTON POST: Mexican Lawmaker: Factory Farms Are “Breeding Grounds” of Swine Flu Pandemic – Discusses the validity of claim that is has been scientifically demonstrated that people can not get influenza virus from pigs, nor by proximity to swine operations or consumption of pork meat or products. Provides points and counter points from several sources, adding to the confusion of where the latest pandemic threat originated. Money quote from Kirby (author): “There is no proof that this illness emerged on a Mexican hog factory farm, or in Mexico, or even in hogs. But we do know that Mexican pigs with swine flu are being destroyed. And we know that Mexican lawmakers think that CAFOs are making people sick.”
NEW YORK TIMES Flu Outbreak Raises a Set of Questions – Addresses question of whether the fatality rate of the swine flu outbreak is being correctly calculated. Avoids any discussion of potential sources of the swine flu, but touches on importance of today’s antibiotics, anti-flu drugs and mechanical ventilators in minimizing fatalities.
FAST COMPANY: Where’s is Swine Flu? – Uses Google Map mashup to track swine flu cases. Interesting to see how Internet and technology are bring information to us in highly information rich forms.