This just in, the WHO has now updated their pandemic alert to level 5 out of 6. A level 5 means that there is sustained human to human contact of the virus in at least 2 countries. Curiously the WHO also claims there have only been 7 reported deaths of the new swine flu, despite reports from Mexico of over 150 deaths. I’m not sure what to make of that, 7 seems a long way off from many other reports of a greater number of deaths. Why would the WHO minimize the impact of the disease? I understand we don’t want to cause a panic, but this seems to undercut the seriousness of it. Curious.

***UPDATE ***

Yahoo news and other sources are reporting that the World Health Organization (WHO) has indeed raised the pandemic alert level for the swine flu to level four (that would be Yellow alert for you Star Trek fans). This is just two steps short of declaring a full blown pandemic world-wide. According to Yahoo News:

Many experts think it may be impossible to contain a flu virus already spreading in several countries. WHO has confirmed human cases of swine flu in Mexico, the United States, Canada and Spain. Only Mexico has reported deaths from the new strain.

I’m not sure what this means in reality. It does seem like this swine flu is serious business. I have a couple of big questions in my mind. First, why have over 100 people in Mexico died but there are no reported deaths in any other country? Understandably the health care system in Mexico may not be what it is here, but is it that much worse? I mean, presumably they have heard of soap and hand washing even in Mexico City.

The other question I have is why are we not restricting travel to and from Mexico? According to The Hill Napolitano has stated:

“We’re already doing passive surveillance at the border,” Napolitano said. “You would close the border if you thought you could contain the spread of disease, but the disease is already in a number of U.S. states.”

What in the world is “passive surveillance” of the border going to accomplish? You might not stop the disease by closing down the border, but you might at least slow it down or prevent some cases. Just because there is “no realistic hope of containment” (according to Napolitano) does that mean we should just give up and surrender to our swine flu overlords? Hopefully this all passes and it will turn out to be the 2009 version of SARS (all hype and no bite), but if it does turn out to be the 1918 flu pandemic, “the sequel”, how foolish is Napolitano and Obama going to look that they didn’t shut down the border and place travel restrictions? It will rank right up there with “keep up the good work Brownie” as stupid disaster management moves. Does anyone else ever get the feeling that this administration has no idea what they are doing? What’s that you say, we don’t even have an HSS Secretary yet? Oh great.

Excuse me, I’m suddenly not feeling to well, I think its the flu . . .