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The Almost Swine Flu diaries...

I flew back from Europe via Hong Kong a week ago and two days later came down with an acute attack of the sniffles and feverishness.

I'm thinking: Dave you're gonna be a Swine Flu statistic.

So I got to the Doc to check the diagnosis.

I arrive at the local clinic and are sent straightaway to the side room to wait on my ownsome. When the doctor 'sees me' he does so over the top of a face mask to take a couple of swabs.

He says: go home, Isolate yourself. The results will be back Friday. By Sunday maybe you can mix with the rest of the world.

Now feeling like a leper.
Ring Bell. Unlcean! Ring Bell Unclean!...
I leave the doctor only to be asked to sign the Medicare business with a proffered pen.

In my parlance that pen is a fomite.
A fomite is any inanimate object or substance capable of carrying infectious organisms (such as germs or parasites) and hence transferring them from one individual to another.
But hey. They're medical. What do I know?

So I take my rigors home
Rigor is a shaking occurring during a high fever. It occurs because cytokines and prostaglandins are released as part of an immune response and increase the set point for body temperature in the hypothalamus.
And in isolation, wait.

I also meditate on my special person status if I did indeed have swine flu. If everyone was allowed to be famous for 15 minutes in their miserable lives, making the Swine Flu list was sure to be my chance at big time coverage.

Unfortunately, the ruling was that I did not have Swine flu. Mine was an ordinary Winter Influenza which now possesses my whole family.

When I was in Hong Kong, albeit briefly, many locals were masked up as the Swine Flu news was spreading concern. In a place like Hong Kong really there is no way to 'isolate' yourself. A potent cocktail of any influenza virus
Of the three genera of influenza viruses that cause human flu, two also cause influenza in pigs, with Influenzavirus A being common in pigs and Influenzavirus C being rare
...could hypothetically wipe out the whole population.

But coming back to Australia was the first time the S word was spoken from the cockpit, by airport officials, by anyone whose task it w as to facilitate my homecoming.

This last bastion approach is absurd. With jet travel today and the massive scale of human intermingling a virus can spread just as this one has within a few weeks to infect people on all continents.There is no way you can contain it as a degree of regulation would be required that woulld savage economic and social intercourse.

Even now with Swine Flu cases in all states, isolating the virus is going to be impossible without the strictest of quarantines. During the Black Death in London, city burghers simply bordered up infected individuals -- and their familes -- in their own homes. That would not have stopped bubonic plague as it was carried by the rat flee -- but would have impacted on the spread of influenza.

Now, closing schools is like shutting the stable door after the pig has bolted.

As a once upon a time nurse who had done time with infectious diseases patients -- true barrier separation of infected individuals requires that very strict guidelines should be followed.

A lot more is involved than such prophylaxis as simply pulling on a condom . That's easy. (But how common is that?)

So how can anyone or any population protect itself from these influenzas?

In the 1918 Pandemic:
The pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It is estimated that anywhere from 50 to 100 million people were killed worldwide,or the approximate equivalent of one third of the population of Europe.An estimated 500 million people, one third of the world's population (approximately 1.6 billion at the time), became infected.
Immunization? If developed, only for the few....

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