I decided to take my mind off this whole Swine Flu thing by reading a copy of The Hot Zone I found on the free stuff table in the laundry room. There's nothing like a little Ebola to distract one from things like looming pandemics or, for that matter, the dishes and small children. That book reads like an extended version of my beloved Drama in Real Life or Book Section from the Reader's Digests of yore; my grandmother had an entire closet full of them, dating from 1949 to the 1980s, and I assure you I read every last one of them again and again as a child. I was a twelve-year-old with a working knowledge of dioxin factory accidents and Lassa fever outbreaks, and knew how to spot a dope fiend hepped on PCP, which was totally the next big thing coming to ravage our youth, who by rights ought to be fighting in Vietnam. Oh, and I knew an awful lot about the living conditions of POWs in the aforementioned 'Nam. Regularly did I dose myself with The Best Medicine (it's Laughter, if you were wondering), and I could always find Humor in Uniform.
Sigh. Good times. And now, reading back over that list of favorites, the genesis of several of my neuroses becomes a little clearer. At any rate, I have a good stomach for graphic tales of hemorrhagic fever, and can put away half a dozen cupcakes while reading about black vomit.
But my happy little tale of frothing blood geysers came to an end and I was left to contemplate the news. Here is what does not worry me: 1) the number of deaths in the US attributable to swine flue; 2) number of cases in US; 3) seriousness of disease in US thus far.
Here's what does worry me: the idea of the virus going batshit loco in Mexico City (where at least one strain has been favoring the young and healthy), morphing and recombining into who knows how many strains. Maybe it'll end up relatively harmless (from an epidemiological standpoint) -- bubonic plague is still around, hanging out in a squirrel near you, but it's not so much a problem these days. Or maybe I'll be kicking myself for not having a bug-out bag packed, or three months' worth of food stored. (In our place this would entail replacing chairs and tables with cans and boxes.) I'm not really sure how worried to be. And as a semi-professional know-it-all, that worries me.