Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Swine Flu--Is It Time to Pull a Suzie?

Mexico has declared a "National Alert". Israel has called it the 'Mexican Flu'. Indeed when my Mom starts investing in Sam's Club amounts of masks, Lysol, and sanitary gel, I begin to think there might be something up.

From what I have observed in the last month, the Mexican government has done an excellent job of containing what could have been a spectacular death toll. When epidemiology reports in Mexico City showed an exponential multiplication of the virus in April, the government made a courageous decision to shut down the schools and government for two weeks. The government has also launched a major campaign involving adorable fliers, sanitary gel in all public places, and supposed fever detectors in the airports. However, despite all the effort, the numbers of suspected cases have more than doubled since August.

Given I am far from a public health official but this is what I have observed. When I became sick with the swine flu, I had excellent, if overbearing, care. My American rheumatologist immediately pulled me off my drugs and I was able to afford the Tamiflu prescribed by Doctor Kansas City. However, it must be an uphill battle for lower class immuno suppressed people for several reasons

1. The city and regional buses are hotels for germs. We are packed in there so tightly you can feel the next person cough. Only students, my family and the poor ride them.

2. Upper class people have sewers and/or maids, the rest have trash cans .

3. Medicine, especially non generic, can be most or all of your paycheck.

4. Many lower income people work outdoors and live in drafty houses.

It may be a "national emergency" for Obama but for the Mexican poor and immuno suppressed, its just another day.

For more information, take a look at Mexico's Secretaria de Salud Report

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