Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I’m forced to go there

We just looked at another place tonight, a rental house close to us. We were pleasantly surprised at the size of the place (as well as the reasonable rent), and it is definitely in play. I'm going to call tomorrow and we'll look at another place tomorrow evening. I think we'll work on a "pros and cons" list and try to get it all laid out and logical, because that is the way we roll (Jamie!). It wasn't until I wrote this that I realized who the owner reminded me of...Tim Robbins! You know, Andy Dufresne from "The Shawshank Redemption."

"That was the longest night of his life...."

Thank you, everyone, for your ideas and support in our Great Residence Search '09. It is greatly appreciated, believe me! I'm hopeful that we'll have good news to report about it soon.

Influenza anatomy I have other things I want to write about, but with this H1N1 mess, I feel I should write a bit more about it. I've written often about influenza in the past (just do a search for 'influenza' in my current blog, or in the Nutwood Junction archives), and you'll find topics including the vaccine, how viruses operate, the 1918 pandemic, and Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider. (Note the Neuraminidase and Hemagglutinin markers in the graphic above. That’s where the H1N1, or others like H5N1, designation comes from.)

Two big stories today. The first U.S. death, a toddler in Texas. Two other serious cases in Texas, another toddler and a woman who just had a C-section, are both in critical condition. Keep in mind that influenza generally targets the young, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. This is nothing new.

The other big story is that the WHO has ratcheted the alert up to level 5, meaning that a pandemic is imminent. I think what is being missed is that you can have a pandemic without having a highly lethal infectious agent. A pandemic merely means that it is widespread throughout many countries, and highly transmissible from human-to-human. This strain was bad news in Mexico, because it seemed to be particularly lethal in 20 to 40 year olds, which is a major red flag for influenza outbreaks. It appears to be less virulent in the States and elsewhere in the world, which leads me to believe that it is moderating and becoming less of a nasty bugger.

Influenza virus2 Oh, and I guess there was another big story (at the risk of sounding like the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition guys), in that it has now been determined that it is a combination of two swine strains, rather than human-swine-avian, as originally reported. The two strains are the North American and Eurasion swine viruses. Neither have been shown to be contagious in humans before, and that is a problem. People won't have any immunity to this new hybrid virus, and that's why it could become so widespread.

So I agree with the cautionary efforts of the WHO and the CDC, although some might find it a little over the top. It's merely intended to keep people vigilant, and yes, to cut down on travel, in order to try to keep it from spreading. The cat is probably out of the bag, because it is already worldwide, but we can still all work to keep it from spreading to those who are always more vulnerable to the flu. Nothing has changed there. The usual precautions apply...this is nothing new. Influenza, the regular one that arrives every season, kills thousands worldwide every year.

I'm not going to do a little dance and say "I told you so!" because this is a nasty infection that has killed people. But I've said for some time that we will eventually face a pandemic infection at some point (have I mentioned that we're overdue?), and it's not surprising that it might be a virus (they mutate like crazy). So far, it looks as though this particular nastiness will not be a killer. But the potential exists for one that could be a killer, and smart companies will come up with a plan for how they will deal with a massive outbreak. The lab I worked at had a plan, and Ken's company has one. It's going to be okay, I believe that.

To lighten the mood a bit, David made me laugh with this take on H1N1, which he found on another blog. Hee hee!


  1. Good luck on the apartment hunting! Keep us posted!

    This swine thing is really scary!!!!!

  2. I told Paul to be even more diligent with the hand washing than normal, kids usually are not as diligent of doing so. I hope they're able to come up with an anitvirus for this before long. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Carlos has family in Mexico City--all safe thank goodness--but the stories they're telling of what life is like there now are scary.
    No one in the streets. Everything closed.
    Hopefully we'll get a handle on this thing.

  4. I was discussing Swine Flu & MRSA on the phone with quite a few patients today since I took over some phone duties, trying to improve them for the new practice. I happened to say that Beta-lactam antibiotics don't help MRSA and one patient screamed(to I guess her husband) NO ANTIBIOTICS CAN HELP US!

    It was that type of day.........

  5. I hope you find the ideal place for your in-laws soon.
    They have just announced on the local news that two school children here in AL has the swine flu. They are closing that school down for a week or until those infected are well. That county is around a hundred miles from here. I have read several blog this week where people have been really sick. Makes me wonder if it could be that flu.
    Take care,Helen

  6. Milwaukee just shut four schools because of swine flu, with two cases in the city and a third reported in the state.

  7. Everyone needs to wash their hands, use alcohol sanitizer, stay home if sick etc... Too easy for people to get sick these days.

  8. I am pleased to say that we are not over reacting to this condition. It is spreading fast, but it is not a Spanish Flu thing at this time. However, as you mentioned how this is unique, this strain may be with us for a while.

  9. Well, it seems the more that I hear about it, the worse it seems. Thanks for reminding me that I know of a microbiologist, who can rationally explain what is what.

  10. My girls come home everyday from school on point, on cue, and full of new and interesting ways to keep us protected. In other words they have become totally paranoid about it.
    I can only hope it can be contained to some degree, but I think you are right, we are probably overdue~

  11. The house sounds a good idea laws might prefer a house...anyway I am enjoying hearing about all the alternatives...and pray that you will find the PERFECT one very soon.
    The swine flu is all over the news here as well. Just 5 cases confirmed here at the moment but folks are all having their say telling us what to do etc. However I don't really think that we have to worry as much as the PANDEMIC word makes us think we should....There is a case of a young girl quite near where Mary and I are going on holiday next I cancel !! no way !! but some folks are having second thoughts about travelling...
    Love for now Sybil xx

  12. Possibilities for your parents' housing seem to be increasing. Great!
    I definitely don't have a case of Pandemic Panic. I'm just being careful. Meanwhile, you seem to have an endless supply of pretty pictures of viruses. A regular art gallery of lethal little guys. :-)

  13. i hope you are able to find the perfect or near perfect home for your in laws soon....i read somewhere in the last few days that someone in Mexico is blaming this strain on a huge American owned pig farm there. It is all a bit scary to those who do not understand.

  14. The sooner the better! I wonder if this is one of those instances where you're just going to have to pull the trigger and get something so you don't always end up looking for something better!

  15. Knowing mostly people in health care I can say that clinics and ERs are packed with people who want to be checked for the flu. People who are not sick and have not been nor have had contact with people who have been to Mexico....They are all running around with the sky is falling.

    If you are sick with flu symptoms that is one thing, but just "To get checked" is a real waste of dollars.

  16. Hi Beth,
    Sounds like you've found some nice options for your in-laws. I hope they pick one of them soon!

  17. I think we are all a little jumpy because of the piggy flu. We now have 3 schools closed here in TN (all private). My son called me last night and he has a bad cold and of course, being his mother... Some of the folks he works with are Mexican but he assures me none have been to Mexico this year. I'll feel better when/if they come up with the vacine.
    Hugs, Joyce


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