AP Photo/Hermann J. Knippertz
Colorado Springs — December 2009 marks a marginal lull in the Great Pandemic 2009, and many headlines are already distributing handshakes and congratulatory pats on the back, proclaiming “it is over” and “we have won” — one headline proclaims not only that the h1n1 Swine Flu pandemic is over, but that it ended with a whimper, utterly skipping the projected bang.
Most experts paid by the health-care industry are remarking that it was not bad, this so-called h1n1 Swine Flu pandemic across the face of the globe. Many more are labeling it hype, hoax, exaggeration and fear-mongering at its very worst.
Others are claiming the clear triumph of modern technology over an age-old scourge, the influenza epidemic. Possibly over disease itself.
Is it over? Or is the notion that a beaten, wimpy Swine Flu pandemic — petered out, dead, vanquished at the start of the true flu season (strangely, seemingly losing all power when it should have the most power, as Winter deepens; what, is this virus suicidal? was it programmed to commit suicide at the very time it should prove strongest, during flu season?) — is it merely wishful thinking to proclaim it all over and done?
Has the Swine Flu been beaten, just in the proverbial nick of time?
The painful — hopeful — mistake which will prove an eventual, fateful blunder, is that a “second wave” of the current pandemic has already come and gone, while the truth is that the second wave has not occurred as yet. Another wave is determined and defined by both the emergence and wildfire spread of a significant flu mutation. Trifling fluctuations in the initial infectious proliferation of the virus had statistical tacticians scrambling to describe “first waves” and “second waves” and sometimes even “third waves.”
Thus far, the world has experienced the lapping rings of a tidal pool. A tidal pool and its reverberating rings is fairly manageable. A tidal pool is mild.
For the true second wave of the h1n1 Swine Flu, think...tidal wave.
Can modern technology handle a tidal wave? Will it be mild? Memory fades, and the past is forgotten, but hopefully the reality of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 yet echoes in the collective mind (has your cell phone cooked your brain beyond remembering the distant past of four years ago?). The reality of what happened — not a tidal wave, but something almost as overwhelmingly elementa (think "finger of God") — to New Orleans was long predicted. We knew it was going to happen. It was going to happen. The foregone conclusion. It happened.
No one argues that the actuality of what had long been predicted should certainly have been better managed; much, much better than the actuality of the storm, the preparation for the storm, and the aftermath of the storm and its handling.
We have experienced the mild Spring lamb at our gate — this mild Swine Flu — resulting in thousands of deaths and millions of infections — the first wave — not so bad, is the collective sigh.
Is it too early to celebrate the nonexistence of the Winter Lion, the virulent, terrible and deadly mutated h1n1 Swine Flu virus that could potentially kill millions of people in a period of months, if not weeks? Should we be celebrating our wisdom and good fortune, or should we be preparing for the worst that has leapt over the proverbial gate and has loomed close, is even at the very door?
A pandemic will last much longer than most public health emergencies and may include "waves" of influenza activity separated by months. In 20th century pandemics, a second wave of influenza activity occurred 3 to 12 months after the first wave. In 1957 the second wave began 3 months after the peak of the first wave, while in 1968 the second wave began 12 months after peak of the first wave. The first wave of the 1918 flu occurred in the spring of that year ending in March. That flu was very severe by usual standards but the second wave beginning 6 months later in September was the most fatal. During the 1918 pandemic, the deadly second wave was responsible for more than 90% of the deaths for the entire pandemic. The third wave occurred more than a year later, during the following 1919-1920 winter/spring, and was the mildest of all. Flu Pandemic Timeline
The reality of this second-wave of pandemic virulence has only just begun to display itself. It is a reality, not a fabricated fantasy to generate revenue and political clout. Ominously, it has been observed, in all its lung-damaging, pneumonia-producing virulence, all over the world, but just a peek here, another glimpse there, like a vast shark encircling the world: China, Ukraine, Paris, Italy, and the United States. The Winter Predator of Swine Flu has not fully roared, and so many think, and desperately wish, that it does not exist.
H1N1 Swine Flu Mutation
During the time period April-November 2009, the cry was "first wave" and "second wave" and often "third wave," as if the passing of months determines a “wave,” or the employment of predetermined time schedules, or squeamish comparisons to the 1918-1919 Great Pandemic. But no secondary eruption has taken place, as yet. The seeds are there. But the Winter blossoms have not yet ripened to harvest.
The flu virus has in fact mutated. A significant threat has emerged, as early as October 2009. Every attempt was made by the news media and health-care industry to suppress all information related to the h1n1 mutation as it erupted in Ukraine. Every form of calming propaganda was implemented to downplay the deadly change in the virus. Almost simultaneously, the mutated virus began to display its virulence all over the world, in random winks of deadly pinpoint accuracy.
The Swine Flu mutation, leading its virulent follower pneumonia by the hand, has arrived, and yet only a few have died and so the rule of thumb has been to declare that there is no reason for concern, that all is well, that the worst cannot happen. That everything is going to be okay, and don’t worry, be happy.
When the flu spreads to the four corners of the world in the off-season, you better watch out during "the season." The flu comes into its own. It will operate best when it is its best time to operate. This is just simple logic. Common reasoning. Basic sense. Flu diary: Great Pandemic 2009, part 3
The Plausible H5N1/H1N1 Invincible Team
Running a parallel race, the far-flung reemergence of h5n1 Bird Flu proves a relevant threat to the evolutionary cycle of the h1n1 virus. The first danger has always been the natural mutation of the h1n1 virus. It is what viruses do, especially stubborn viruses; however, the more frightening possibility, and an entirely different threat, is the reassortment of the h5n1 (Bird Flu) virus by the h1n1 (Swine Flu) virus, enabling the emergence of an entirely new flu. A new flu, one with the person-to-person infection ease of the h1n1 Swine Flu (spreading around the world in six months in the off-flu season) coupled with the lethality of the h5n1 Bird Flu (60 percent mortality).
The hubris of congratulatory projection.
When the luxury liner RMS Titanic launched in 1912, many believed the ship to be unsinkable, and popular legend has someone uttering in awe something along the lines of: “Even God couldn’t sink her!” It is too easy to acknowledge frigid parallels in the chilly Winter air of the current flu pandemic, a certain hubris on both sides of the h1n1 argument (get your vaccine, step right up, and you will be safe; and the virus is utterly mild and you need to do nothing, absolutely nothing to protect yourself and your family), how a painless victory is projected over this whimpering Swine Flu — on one side is modern technology, health care, scientific knowledge, and most importantly the media-vaunted h1n1 vaccine, while on the other side is a microscopic pig virus.
Perhaps the Titanic will never sink, and the mutated h1n1 virus will never gain a foothold, and New Orleans will never drown beneath the sea, and the h5n1 Bird Flu virus will never meet and greet the h1n1 Swine Flu virus, or never change as viruses tend to do.
In 1912 and in 2005 and now 2009, the wisest plan is: keep vigilant watch for icebergs, and rising sea levels, and the sudden onset of flu-like symptoms.
Local Colorado Springs Links: Vegetarian Society of Colorado
Happy Cow Listing for Vegetarian Restaurants in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs Vitamin Cottage
Sunflower Farmers Market - Wholefoods Market
Memorial Health System Influenza Information - Flu Clinics in Colorado Springs