Friday, May 1, 2009

I am a human pincushion...

Er, ok, maybe I exaggerate. I only got *one* needle today - the good ol' flu vaccination.

Supposedly, from what I hear, it's a type-A influenza vaccine this year, which shares some characteristics with the dreaded swine flu. So in a week or two, I might have some (minor) immunity, or at least resistance, to that one.

From what I've been hearing & reading, though, this swine flu thingy seems to be over-hyped.

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on diseases, I'm an engineer fer cryin' out loud!

Okay, why do I think that?
  1. There have been 13 officially confirmed deaths due to this particular flu. Lots of "suspected" deaths in Mexico, but their numbers keep getting revised downwards, as they do more analysis & testing;
  2. The victims have been in poor health, or were elderly or very young (e.g. the sole non-Mexican victim was a toddler in the southern US);
  3. Mexico City, where the outbreak was first noted, has 20 million plus inhabitants living in very close proximity, and there are only 300-odd confirmed cases and 12 deaths. To put that in perspective, there are estimates that "ordinary" influenza viruses kill a few hundred thousand people each year...
On the flip side, of course, we need to consider the potential threat:
  • Normal influenza has a mortality rate of something less than 0.1% (i.e. less than one person in a thousand who get it will die from it, or from a secondary infection). The confirmed numbers so far for the swine flu suggest a mortality rate of at least 2.5%, which is comparable to the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed millions worldwide.
  • According to this article, "WHO has warned that it would be a mistake to be lulled into a false sense of security. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic started mildly – and went on to kill 20 to 40 million people round the world."
  • The level of health services in Mexico might be such that they're missing a large proportion of the infections, and the "possible suspected" deaths might easily be 10-20 times higher than the confirmed numbers (and similarly for the number of infections).
Ok. So. The media is doing it's usual big beat-up, but the threat is still there, I guess. A bit of reading reveals that the Spanish flu first emerged 12-18 months before the real killer strain swept the world.

Might be time to stock up on the tinned food!

Mmmm. I could do with a bit of Dynamite Chilli... :-D

That and some more flour - going to try to find somewhere that sells better quality flour than the usual supermarket stuff. Maybe some other ingredients, too.

Actually, that reminds me - I had Chicken, Szechuan style, for lunch today. Got it from the chinese takeaway down the road ("Yummy Yummy" - gotta love those names!). Pretty bloody good, if you ask me. A little too much zing, initially, but once I figured out it was a bad idea to breath in the chilli sauce, all was good. :-P

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