Are the Markets Too Complacent About Swine Flu?

The WHO has designated swine flu an “imminent” pandemic, and raised its alert to a level 5 out of a possible 6. The World Bank guesstimates the cost of a severe pandemic at 4.8% of world GDP (yikes!). Yet the US had a very nice day for equity investors yesterday, and the Japanese stockmarket is up handsomely as of this hour. What gives?

The usually dour Ambrose-Evans-Pritchard argues yes, in reporting that is less apocalyptic than his normal style, argues that investors are underestimating the possible repercussions:

Over the last couple of days I have been deluged by notes from City analysts and economists suggesting that H1N1 avian-swine flu poses no great threat to the global economy because the authorities showed during the 2003 SARS epidemic in Asia that outbreaks can be contained.

This is a misreading of the threat we face.

SARS is a coronavirus. It is extremely hard to catch. Just 8,000 people were infected worldwide during the entire epidemic (10pc died).

Today’s H1N1 outbreak is an influenza virus, which is far more contagious.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general, said it is already too late to stop the spread of the disease. “At this time, containment is not a feasible option.

It is entirely possible that we may see a very mild pandemic. I think we have to be mindful and respectful of the fact that influenza moves in ways we cannot predict.

The worst pandemic of the 20th century occurred in 1918, and it also started out as a relatively mild pandemic that wasn’t very much noticed in most places. Then in time it became a very severe pandemic, one of the most severe infectious disease episodes ever recorded.

Perhaps because so few market players studied science, or have a current link to science, they seem not to realize that the world’s virologists and flu experts are in a state of nail-biting, ashen-faced, fear.

Rob Carnell, chief economist at ING, is one of the exceptions. “We believe fear of infection will lead to drastically altered behaviour. It may be that swine flu does not tip the human fear scale sufficiently, but if it did, with the economy already in tatters, the results could be catastrophic,” he said in a note today.

We may be lucky. The virus may indeed prove mild – like the Hong Kong flu in 1968 – or burn out altogether as it mutates.

The early cases in the US and Canada give hope. So does the apparent fall-off in the fatality rates in Mexico.

But as Dr Fukuda said, nobody can pre-judge the virulence of this pandemic. Least of all the markets.

Mexico City illustrates what can happen. People are avoiding discretionary outings. As the BBC reports:

What was once one of the noisiest, dirtiest, busiest places in the world, has become strangely sterile – a quiet city, where many people wear masks outdoors, and most don’t go out.

In Mexico City alone, the mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, has put the figure at $88m (£59m) a day

But how much will swine flu hit the wider Mexican economy?

Tourism, which represents 8% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP), is the sector which will inevitably be hardest hit.
In the current environment, most people see little incentive to visit Mexico, and plenty of reason to leave.

The Mexican government has lobbied hard behind the scenes to prevent its borders being closed, or any formal quarantine being imposed.

But other governments and airlines are beginning to apply their own restrictions.

Cuba and Argentina have already stopped direct flights to Mexico. France is seeking a formal European ban on flights.
The real cost of swine flu depends on how long this crisis lasts.

UBS bank in Mexico City estimates the crisis could take out 0.2% of annual GDP if it subsides in the next two weeks, or 0.8% of GDP if it goes on for two months.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. mmckinl

    Hold on … Read this about the “Flu” outbreak!
    Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms

    Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms

    By F. William Engdahl

    If we are to believe what our trusted international media report, the world is on the brink of a global pandemic outbreak of a new deadly strain of flu, H1N1 as it has been labelled, or more popularly, Swine Flu. As the story goes, the outbreak of the deadly flu was first discovered in Mexico. According to press reports, after several days, headlines reported as many as perhaps 150 deaths in Mexico were believed caused by this virulent people-killing pig virus that has spread to humans and now is allegedly being further spread from human to human. Cases were being reported hourly from Canada to Spain and beyond. The only thing wrong with this story is that it is largely based on lies, hype and coverup of possible real causes of Mexican deaths.

    April 29, 2009 “Global Research” — One website, revealingly named Swine Flu Vaccine, reports the alarming news, ‘One out of every five residents of Mexico’s most populous city wore masks to protect themselves against the virus as Mexico City seems to be the epicenter of the outbreak. As many as 103 deaths have been attributed to the swine flu so far with many more feared to be on the horizon. The health department of Mexico said an additional 1,614 reported cases have been documented.’ We are told that the H1N1 ‘shares genetic material from human, avian and swine influenza viruses.’1

    Airports around the world have installed passenger temperature scans to identify anyone with above normal body temperature as possible suspect for swine flu. Travel to Mexico has collapsed. Sales of flu vaccines, above all Tamiflu from Roche Inc., have exploded in days. People have stopped buying pork fearing certain death. The World Health Organization has declared a ‘a public health emergency of international concern,’ defined by them as ‘an occurrence or imminent threat of illness or health conditions caused by bioterrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or highly fatal infectious agents or toxins that pose serious risk to a significant number of people.’2

    What are the symptoms of this purported Swine Flu? That’s not at all clear according to virologists and public health experts. They say Swine Flu symptoms are relatively general and nonspecific. ‘So many different things can cause these symptoms. it is a dilemma,’ says one doctor interviewed by CNN. ‘There is not a perfect test right now to let a doctor know that a person has the Swine Flu.’ It has been noted that most individuals with Swine Flu had an early on set of fever. Also it was common to see dizziness, body aches and vomiting in addition to the common sneezing, headache and other cold symptoms. These are symptoms so general as to say nothing.

    The US Government’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta states on its official website, ‘Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.’ Nonetheless they add, ‘CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.’3

    How many media that have grabbed on the headline ‘suspected case of Swine Flu’ in recent days bother to double check with the local health authorities to ask some basic questions? For example, the number of confirmed cases of H1N1 and their location? The number of deaths confirmed to have resulted from H1N1? Dates of both? Number of suspected cases and of suspected deaths related to the Swine Flu disease?

    Some known facts

    According to Biosurveillance, itself part of Veratect, a US Pentagon and Government-linked epidemic reporting center, on April 6, 2009 local health officials declared a health alert due to a respiratory disease outbreak in La Gloria, Perote Municipality, Veracruz State, Mexico.

    They reported, ‘Sources characterized the event as a ‘strange’ outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to bronchial pneumonia in some pediatric cases. According to a local resident, symptoms included fever, severe cough, and large amounts of phlegm. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town’s population (approximately 1,800 cases) has been affected. No precise timeframe was provided, but sources reported that a local official had been seeking health assistance for the town since February.’ What they later say is ‘strange’ is not the form of the illness but the time of year as most flu cases occur in Mexico in the period October to February.
    The report went on to note, ‘Residents claimed that three pediatric cases, all under two years of age, died from the outbreak. However, health officials stated that there was no direct link between the pediatric deaths and the outbreak; they stated the three fatal cases were “isolated” and “not related” to each other.’

    Then, most revealingly, the aspect of the story which has been largely ignored by major media, they reported, ‘Residents believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.’4″

    So the whole episode could be bacteria with a fly host from hog factory waste.

    The other cases. There are always cases of flu around the world … I believe it is called an ambient level, always there, just usually never fatal.

  2. Tortoise

    Needless to say, we do not know how we will all be affected by the swine flu. However, they say that “If you hear the sound of hooves outside your house, assume it is a horse and before you assume that it is a zebra” — which I assume is good advice if you do not live in Africa. The point is that we should consider first what is most likely given past experience. The most likely scenario is that this will be a “pandemic” only in the sense of “Emergence of a disease new to a population” rather “than exceptionally serious illness spread easily and sustainably among large parts of the world population”.

    I think that a lot of people confuse “pandemic” with something like the “black plague”. In a sense, we get a flu pandemic every now an then as a new strain spreads around the world. The flu, as others have pointed on this web site, in a typical year, may easily kill half a million people around the world. This sort of pandemic does not even make it to the third page of the paper. I have heard guess-estimates that the Mexican swine flu will kill 1.5 million people this year. Awful though this is, it is not as frightening if you consider how many people die every year from the common flu.

    I do not want to underestimate the severity of swine flu — and I repeat that do not know how hard it will hit us. But, going with past experience, it is simply more likely that this will be a typical “Asian flu” type of pandemic than the far deadlier but also far less common “Spanish flu”.

    As for business, airlines, bars, and restaurants will be hit hard. Maybe the next time you hear the sound of hooves outside your house, it will be the panicked populace.

  3. Carrick

    Let’s not forget, China also contained the health fallout from SARS by locking the country don, heavily restricting movement, and putting their “workers commune/group” system to work (all Chinese citizens are organized into “worker groups,” who report to and take direction from foremen, and up the chain it goes.) Similarly, they contained the economic fallout by instituting a media lockdown, heavily downplaying and covering up the crisis, and by also being an export economy (when most workers already live in on-site dormitories, its easy to lock them in, monitor their health and keep the machines running.)

  4. skippy

    Tamilflu:But 99 percent of cases this year are resistant to the drug, compared to 11 percent last year, The New York Times reports.

    The resistance seems to stem from a spontaneous mutation in the virus, not the result of overuse of the drug, according to the Times. They’ve advised patients to use a Tamiflu rival, Relenza, or an older med called rimantadine, according to Bloomberg News.


    Chinese agribiz giant eyes Smithfield takeover (Smithfield, the owners of the piggery claimed to be the epicenter).



  5. attempter

    Where it comes to the day-to-day fluctuations, I guess just like with oil prices, so the markets depend primarily on trend psychology. If traders are currently bullish on account of all the phony bank profits, positively spun economic data (“it’s still getting worse, but the rate of decline is slowing!”), the general propaganda campaign that we’re turning the corner, it’s going to be a U if not a V…and of course the administration’s continued signals across the board that corporatist bailouts and appeasement shall be the core of American economic and social policy, and at all costs the loot conveyance shall continue; given all this, the pandemic will have to hit pretty hard, with some high-profile incidents (rich people getting sick), to sour the good mood.

    Thanks to mmckinl for already giving the other point I was going to make: the swine flu has arisen from CAFOs, which have long been a clear and present public health danger. Factory farms, both existentially by congregating so many animals, and through their practice of bombing the inmates with antibiotics, constitute an ongoing, ever-intensifying biological arms race. Each CAFO is, more than anything else, a completely unregulated and unsupervised bioweapons lab.

    Just as with the big banks, we have antisocial, psychopathic corporate behavior. But this is far worse: the banks have achieved an economic Black Death. Factory farms threaten a literal one.

    Every swine flu sickness is already a felonious assault on the part of Smithfield and others. Each death is a murder. And they are threatening mass murder. It’s only a matter of time.

  6. Anonymous

    I think that the markets are in complete denial about this… If analysts do not see the risk in this then the are completlty ignorant. they don’t even seem to have grasped that a pandemic will result in every city in the world becoming like mexico city…

    A further collapse in world trade…. cancellation of travel. great reduction of economic activity appart from the purchase of drugs….. Seriously I am not going to the pub as much anymore already… I am reluctant to go to non-essential leisure activities… Its going to be a tsunami when this thing gets legs…

  7. reason

    thanks for that interested post.
    For what its worth, I have a hard time understanding the hysteria. As I read the news this is just a pretty typical new flu virus – nothing especially virulent.
    What am I missing?

  8. Yves Smith

    As far as I can tell, the death rate is high, 5-10% of infections in Mexico. The version in the US appears to be genetically the same, but clearly thy are missing something, since the death rate is much lower.

    If whatever version in Mexico that is leading to the higher death rate starts showing up elsewhere, we do have a problem.

  9. Purple

    Even a 1 % death rate would be catastrophic, because this is a new flu and infection rates will be much higher than the normal flu. Even a .5% death rate, not much above a normal flu, would be horrible – if we are talking about a 50 % infection rate. Normal flu is about 15 % infection rate.

  10. Jeremy

    Living in Asia when SARS hit, it was frightening to say the least because we did not know where the source of infection was from (at least in the initial few weeks). Furthermore, it seems to me that very few people recovered after being infected. For the swine flu, there seems to be a sense of calm because people are recovering.

  11. B. Mull

    Call me a skeptic, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest this is anything other than a new strain of flu. Sort of like how, say, the Prius car showed up on the scene. First you saw one, and then a whole bunch, but ultimately it’s just another car.

    The one unknown with any new flu strain is whether it will further mutate into other new strains. One of those other strains might conceivably turn out to be truly dangerous. However, there is no evidence of that happening, and little chance that it ever will.

    Sort of like how, say, a new guy shows up at work. You can never be a 100% sure he doesn’t have a crazy girlfriend and she isn’t going to burn the office down. But you’ve got bigger problems.

  12. X

    Obama, I think, hinted at the necessity for direct action against the banks in his 100 days press conference. He was asked what he was humbled by and he said the fact that the president doesn't have unlimited power. He said their are multiple centers of power. He then gave 2 examples: Bankers and Congress. Argue for an innocent intrepretation if you are foolish enough. It sure sounded like he said there are 3 branches of gov: Executive, Legislative, Bank. He said he cannot make bankers do as he wishes. It was all right there in the speech and Q&A. If you ask me it was a subtle hint that we had better march on Wall Street if we want to ensure real change. I think we have a government which can be pressured to deliver meaningful change, but only with a real commintment from the public. If we march in large numbers on Wall Street now, we can have real change. Obama just put the ball in our court. He admitted on national tv that he does not have the power alone to curtail the illegitimate 3rd branch of government. Our forebears did not hesitate to hit the streets and demand necessary reforms. If we will not do the same we share equal blame with the government for failure to reform. The door is open. Seize the day or not. Mass demonstrations against Wall Street right now will produce change.

  13. Dan Duncan

    I suspect many of the people who are very alarmed about Swine Flu to be similarly alarmed by Apocalyptic Global Warming…(it’s just a hunch).

    Therefore, I propose the following:

    Upon stating your belief in the dire dangers of swine flu—or lack thereof—please also include a brief statement apocalyptic global warming.

    My initial hunch is that there are Correlation Issues which should cause the reasonable reader to treat the vast majority of opinions on this matter with extreme skepticism. In fact, I’d bet that one’s views on these matters are not merely binary “yes I believe” or “no, I don’t”…but that the views are linked by degree.


    1. “I am terrified of apocalyptic global warming. And, I am terrified at the prospect of the swine flu.”

    2. “I am mildly concerned…”

    3. “It’s all over-hyped BS”

    I fall into camp #3.

    [Damn! This means there is a very good chance that I am but a mere ideological lemming…And for those in doubt…I am. I haven’t a freaking clue. I never know what to think until My Spiritual Advisor, Yogi (which Hindi for Sean) Hannity, tells me what I should be thinking. He talks to me, you know…through my TV. He tells me what to do. Every night. In fact, he told me to write this post.]


    So let’s start at the extremes: Who out there in NakedCap Land feels strongly about both the swine flu and apocalyptic global warming—but NOT in a way that fall neatly into camps #1 or #3 above?


  14. patrick neid

    The market response is totally reasonable at this point. Town criers have been calling for the end of the world for any number of reasons most of which have been imaginary.

    If in fact this flu bug becomes the “real thing” there is plenty of time to take the appropriate market actions on individual accounts.

    In the meantime I don’t even waste my time worrying about it.

    This is their job—“Perhaps because so few market players studied science, or have a current link to science, they seem not to realize that the world’s virologists and flu experts are in a state of nail-biting, ashen-faced, fear.” Sounds like Paulson, Bernanke, Obama, Geithner and Summers!

    Most recently Y2K comes to mind not to mention Global warning with its scam of the century cures.

  15. internet

    just as with any flu, you should still be very cautious if you are elderly or young. 30,000 people die a year (mostly old or very young) die from the plain vanilla flu annually.

  16. jbmoore


    I’m kind of surprised at your reaction to this after having lived through the first swine flu panic in the 1970s. More people will likely die in car accidents in May then from the swine flu virus in the US. Flu comes in waves generally from Asia where they raise fowl and swine together. The flu goes from birds, to pigs, to humans generally in that order, and it generally originates from Asia and spreads globally. Swine are almost always an intermediate host between birds and humans. The only exception that we know of is the 1918 pandemic which was likely bird to human. It was also bad because it struck on the Western Front and it was a highly lethal strain of bird flu. The 1918 pandemic pretty much ended the war because it was killing so many soldiers, the armies couldn’t effectively fight. It took that virus time to go around the world, and it will take this virus time to go around the world, but by the time it really becomes an issue in the winter, the government will have a vaccine that will hopefully be safe and effective unlike the last swine flu vaccine from the 70’s. Here’s a note I wrote to a friend about why we will dodge this bullet:

    Yes. influenza is temperature sensitive. It has a shorter half life at temperatures above 65 degrees F (outside of the host) which is why it is most potent in the winter months. This chart, , of the 1918 Flu Pandemic Mortalities shows that the US is on the tail end of the Mexican flu epidemic for now. Also, most of the known US cases are travelers from Mexico. Our public health system likely needs the funding, but to put it in perspective on average 109 people die everyday due to traffic accidents in the US. Maybe one person has died in the US from this illness, . What has the media worked up is that people who are dying from it are young adults who should be least susceptible. Between a slightly better health care system and the higher environmental temps, the pandemic should abate rapidly with the next few weeks, especially in the South. That and it isn’t really spreading among the population from what I can tell. So, it’s all media overreaction and maybe a distraction to get people’s minds off of the economy and other issues. More people will die in their cars in the month of May then will probably die in total from this virus in the US. Things may change in the winter, but by then a vaccine will be available (it takes 6 months to make enough vials). People are letting themselves be terrorized, and the vaccine manufacturer will likely make a killing.


  17. mistah charley, ph.d.

    I read quite a bit about influenza during the bird flu “boom” a few years ago. We didn’t get a bird flu pandemic, but I’m sure we will get a flu pandemic eventually. Now? Will all this turn out to be much ado about almost nothing in just a few weeks? Maybe – but maybe not.

    How many more will get it? How many more will die from it? What will happen when the next northern hemisphere flu season comes? We’ll know more later.

    But we do know some things now. As Obama said at last night’s press conference, if you cough, cough into your elbow, not into the open air or your hand. Wash or sanitize (with Purell or equivalent) your hands frequently. Stay home from work or school or crowds or traveling in mass transit if you’re sick.

    Other things you could do now:

    Accumulate food and water at home in case supplies are interrupted, for whatever reason.

    Download and print out the CDC’s home care advice (just as the stores might be empty if this hits hard, the hospitals will definitely be full) – it’s at

    While antivirals and antibiotics require prescriptions, CDC says over-the-counter cold and flu medications will give symptomatic relief (but don’t give them to children under the age of two; don’t give aspirin-containing drugs to teenagers or younger). You might check that you have some of these on hand, just in case.

    Aches and fever can be helped with acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®), and naproxen (Aleve).

  18. gn

    Yves said: “As far as I can tell, the death rate is high, 5-10% of infections in Mexico”

    That was some misreporting in Mexico. Actually there are only seven (!) confirmed death cases in Mexico. In most of the 159 other reported incidents people died from other diseases.

    The world health organization is giving very detailed updates:

    “29 April 2009 — The situation continues to evolve rapidly. As of 18:00 GMT, 29 April 2009, nine countries have officially reported 148 cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection. The United States Government has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection including seven deaths.

    The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths – Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).”

    It is probably safe to say that the mortality rate will be higher in poorer countries. So the WHO is coordinating efforts to contain the outbreak before it reaches Africa or Asia too early. We need to gain time to develop a vaccine or many people will die. Most likely not in the rich countries.

    The scary bit: Nobody knows what will happen, if H1N1 and H5N1 meet in one person. Just another fine reason to keep it from spreading to Asia too quickly.

  19. AndrewBW

    LA Times reporting today initial genetic studies seem to indicate this flu is less serious than has been thought.,0,3606923.story

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health published genetic sequence data Monday morning of flu samples isolated from patients in California and Texas, and thousands of scientists immediately began downloading the information. Comparisons to known killers — such as the 1918 strain and the highly lethal H5N1 avian virus — have since provided welcome news.

    “There are certain characteristics, molecular signatures, which this virus lacks,” said Peter Palese, a microbiologist and influenza expert at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. In particular, the swine flu lacks an amino acid that appears to increase the number of virus particles in the lungs and make the disease more deadly.

    Scientists have identified several other differences between the current virus and its 1918 predecessor, but the significance of those differences is still unclear, said Dr. Scott Layne, an epidemiologist at the UCLA School of Public Health.

    Though scientists have begun to relax about the initial toll, they’re considerably less comfortable when taking into account the fall flu season. They remain haunted by the experience of 1918, when the relatively mild first wave of flu was followed several months later by a more aggressive wave.

    The longer the virus survives, the more chances it has to mutate into a deadlier form.

    “If this virus keep going through our summer,” Palese said, “I would be very concerned.”

  20. DownSouth

    Ambrose-Evans-Prichard said: “Perhaps because so few market players studied science, or have a current link to science, they seem not to realize that the world’s virologists and flu experts are in a state of nail-biting, ashen-faced, fear.”

    I think Ambrose-Evans-Prichard has it wrong. What we have here is an example of what happens when the pseudoscience practiced by the majority of economists comes up against real science.

    The future of this epidemic is really unknowable. This comment from a real scientist in the NY Times sums it up succinctly: “What happens next is chiefly up to the virus.”

    But the economists just can’t leave it at that. Somehow they manage to convince themselves that they are able to know the unknowable. They sit around and make predictions, held and argued with a conviction and certainty and passion that would make any back-woods Southern Baptist preacher proud.

    How did economics come to such a deplorable state?

    Here’s how John Gray puts it in Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern:

    Without realising it–for few of them know anything of the history of thought, least of all in their own subject–the majority of economists have inherited their way of thinking from the Positivists. Working their way into the discipline via Logical Positivism, Saint-Simonian and Comtean ideas have become the standard methodology of economics…

    We laugh at the enthusiasm of these prophets of modernity for the pseudo-science of phrenology. Yet free market economics is no different. Like its predecessor, ‘scientific socialism’, it rests on a spurious claim to knowledge of the future.

    Contemporary social scientists have followed Saint-Simon and Comte in believing that social science can establish universal laws on human behavior, and thereby forecast the future development of mankind. Unfortunatley–from the point of view of the project of a science of society–the behaviour of human beings cannot be predicted in this way. As Alasdair MacIntyre has written: ‘the salient fact about those [social] sciences is the absence of the discovery of any law-like generalisations whatsoever… No economist predicted “stagflation” before it occurred; the writings of monetary economists have signally failed to predict the rates of inflation correctly.’

    The science of society of which Saint-Simon and Comte dreamt is nowhere in sight. The reason is not that the Positivists were premature or over ambitious. Their view of science was unscientific.

    First the public had to suffer through the consequences of all the blathering nonsense where economists tried to reduce human behavior to the generality and certainty of the laws of mathematics. Taleb and Mandelbrot pushed back some, saying it doesn’t work that way.

    But many economists seem unrepentent. Looking back up through this thread, it appears many now think they can not only predict human behavior, but biological behavior as well.

  21. Neal

    I for one am very concerned about global warming but not at all concerened about swine flu.

    My impression is that the perception of it being more deadly in Mexico is that the flu has been present for months with many more people sick from it than what is reported, just due to the nature of the culture and the stae of medicine.

    The apparent high death rate would come from the fact that deaths are investigated and question, so the issue becomes, did 10 out of 100 die or did 10 out of 100,000 die?

    Who knows? I don’t.

    I will not be worried until there is a documented number of people who have the illness and die from it as compared to a population of ill people who recovered.

  22. DownSouth

    The Mexican government has suspended all “non-essential” economic activities in Mexico City.

    Only markets (where many Mexicans buy their groceries), grocery stores, transportation services, pharmacies, financial services, telecommunications services, trash collection, hotels and restraunts (limited to carry-out) will be allowed to continue operating:

  23. Leo Kolivakis

    There was a doctor on CBC radio this morning who was there when swine flu came out in the seventies. They sounded the alarm back then, and he said they got criticized for “overreacting”. But he said if the pandemic really hit, they would have gotten criticized for underreacting. He is absolutely right: better to err on the cautious front.


  24. DownSouth

    Here’s a report in English:

    Mexican President Felipe Calderon said in a televised address that only essential businesses such as supermarkets, hospitals and pharmacies should stay open, and only critical government workers such as police and soldiers would be on duty from Friday through Tuesday. School had already been canceled nationwide through Tuesday.

    The steps are aimed at stopping further spread of the virus, blamed for 168 deaths in Mexico and one in the United States, even though the WHO has suggested nations should focus on minimizing its effects, not containing its spread.

    “There will be no government activities — those that are not fundamental for citizens — nor any private-sector activities that are not fundamental to common life,” Calderon said Wednesday night in a televised address.

  25. DownSouth

    Here’s something else to think about. With the perfidy, dishonesty and utter disdain for the public exhibited by the U.S. government in the handling of the financial crisis, the Iraq War and Katrina, how much trust is left in government to deal with another major crisis, like a major flu pandemic?

    Mexico offers a “canary in the coal mine” scenario of what happens when there is no confidence in government:

    Beyond the fear, though, lies a widespread mistrust that officials are not leveling with residents.

    “There’s a general feeling of lack of confidence in the government,” Ackerman said. “They’re more skeptical. They don’t believe everything the government tells them, so they don’t know how big this crisis really is.”

    Garrido said his family and friends don’t know what to believe.~

    It is very easy to fool the people at the start of a war and run it on a confidential basis. But later the wounded start coming back and the actual news spreads. Then, finally, when we have won, the men who fought the war come home. There will be millions of them who will come home knowing how things were. A government which wants to keep the confidence of its people after the war, or during the last stages of it, should take the people into its confidence and tell them everything that they can know, bad as well as good, so long as their knowing of it does not help the enemy. Covering up the errors to save the men who make them can only lead to a lack of confidence which can be one of the greatest dangers a nation can face.–Ernest Hemingway

  26. Doc Holiday

    Exclusive Interview: CDC Head Virus Sleuth…R.D.: No. It was not very severe in healthy pigs. Everyone was very curious about these H3 viruses. Since 1918, normally it’s only H1N1 in swine. Then all of a sudden there’s H3N2 in swine in the Midwestern U.S. When people analyzed what was inside those viruses, they realized there were three different things.

    The PB1 gene, that was human. H3 and N2 also were human. The PA and PB2, the two polymerase genes, were of avian flu. The rest were typical North American swine viruses. Those strains were the so-called triple reassortants.

    Q: We always hear of the pig as a mixing vessel combining human, avian, and pig influenzas. Why didn’t you regularly see reassortants?

    R.D.: Good questions. These questions have no answer. There is an explanation somewhere.

    The reality is good molecular surveillance in the pigs started in the 1970s. So if there were strains that were not very dominant between the 1930s and the ’70s, we wouldn’t have detected them. This triple reassortant was very successful and took over and dominated the picture—to the point where the classical H1N1 was almost extinct.

    Q: Why were the first triple reassortants more fit?

    R.D.: They were H3s, and H3 is a different subtype, so there was no immunity in the pigs. It was probably that they had new polymerase genes, too.

    Q: How does it tie to the current outbreak?

    R.D.: Where does all this talk about avian and human genes come from? I was describing a fully swine virus. For [the] last 10 years, this has been a fully swine virus. Can you tell I have an accent? I’m a U.S. citizen but I have the roots in Argentina. It’s like me. I’ve been in the U.S. since 1980. I’m a U.S. citizen but I have an accent.

    Q: It’s not as though human and avian just got there in this strain.

    R.D.: It’s part of the swine virus.

    Q: What’s the newest part of this strain?

    R.D.: Neuraminidase and the matrix are the newest to be seen in North America. They were not part of the team—I talk about flu virus as teams of genes. There are eight players. They have these two new players from Asia.

    Q: It suggests a mixing of pigs from North America and Asia.

    R.D.: One little detail we haven’t discussed is [that] these Midwestern viruses were exported to Asia. Korea and many countries import from the U.S. Swine flu is economically not such a big deal that many countries don’t check for it…..

    Some nice info there at the link, and also here:

    Swine Flu Source Apparently Not Pigs, Says FAOClarifying the apparent lack of evidence of pig involvement, he added “Today, all the processes we are working on are based on the fact that the crisis is human to human without intervention of pigs. It’s a pure contagious human to human (transmission) and there is no declaration, there is no rumor, there is no identification of flu in pigs. Of course, this has also to be carefully investigated more than it was before… We hope that it will be confirmed.”

    Domenech has taken the lead for the FAO in efforts to track the spread and control avian flu. Asked to compare avian flu and swine flu, he said, “It’s totally different in the sense that the avian flu was and still is an avian problem of the poultry sector with millions of dead and killed animals.”

    The big fear has been a mutant strain of bird flu causing a human pandemic. That has not happened. As for swine flu, he said, “In this case it’s totally the contrary. It’s human and pigs are, for the moment, not involved.”

  27. In Debt We Trust

    I don’t know what you guys are complaining about – agriculture markets are doing just fine.

    First we are entering a cyclically bullish period of the year for commodities. Second we have ENSO wet conditions. And third, the oversold lean hogs and grains mkt rebounded once people realized the swine flu is aptly misnamed – it is more of a human to human transmission than pig-human. Just how many pigs (of the animal kind) do you see walking the streets of NYC anyway?

  28. Doc Holiday

    One more item which is highly fascinating, because research on flu apparently excluded humans!!!!

    Swine flu: The predictable pandemic?>>** While researchers focused on livestock problems could see the threat developing, it is not one that medical researchers focused on human flu viruses seemed to have been aware of. <<<< >>> That sounds like the rating agencies not knowing what was really going on with the systemic collapse of unregulated financial entities, i.e, sort of a state of denial that allows one hand to not know what the other hand is doing… but go on with business as usual and a don't ask don't tell attitude of collusion…

    > "All these viruses still contained the same "cassette" of internal genes, including the avian and human polymerase genes, reports Amy Vincent of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Ames, Iowa (Advances in Virus Research, vol 72, p 127). "They are why the swine versions of this virus easily outcompete those that don't have them," says Webby.

    But the viruses have been actively switching surface proteins to evade the pigs' immunity. There are now so many kinds of pig flu that it is no longer seasonal. One in five US pig producers actually makes their own vaccines, says Vincent, as the vaccine industry cannot keep up with the changes.

    This rapid evolution posed the "potential for pandemic influenza emergence in North America", Vincent said last year. Webby, too, warned in 2004 that pigs in the US are "an increasingly important reservoir of viruses with human pandemic potential". One in five US pig workers has been found to have antibodies to swine flu, showing they have been infected, but most people have no immunity to these viruses.

    Our immune response to flu, which makes the difference between mild and potentially lethal disease, is mainly due to the H surface protein. The Mexican virus carries the swine version, so the antibodies we carry to human H1N1 viruses will not recognise it.

    That's why the CDC warned last year that swine H1N1 would "represent a pandemic threat" if it started circulating in humans.

    So where did the Mexican virus originate? The Veratect Corporation based in Kirkland, Washington, monitors world press and government reports to provide early disease warnings for clients, including the CDC. Their first inkling of the disease was a 2 April report of a surge in respiratory disease in a town called La Gloria, east of Mexico City, which resulted in the deaths of three young children. Only on 16 April – after Easter week, when millions of Mexicans travel to visit relatives – did reports surface elsewhere in the country.

    Local reports in La Gloria blamed pig farms in nearby Perote owned by Granjas Carroll, a subsidiary of US hog giant Smithfield Foods. The farms produce nearly a million pigs a year."

  29. mdf

    Leo Kolivakis: He is absolutely right: better to err on the cautious front.I heard that interview as well (CBC’s “The Current”, at about 09:30 eastern time on 2009-04-30). I can’t find much fault in the “overreaction” charge, because, as the doctor noted, and as far as anyone else can tell, only one (1) person actually died of the swine flu that year. Worse, though, is that the side-effects of the vaccine program put 500 people in the hospital, and killed 25 of them.

    In short, in that case, the cure was definitely worse than the disease.

    But I think it is more important to consider the very idea of “erring on the cautious” in situations like this. Underneath a position like that is that public health people can exert a significant amount of control for the resources allocated their way. Is there any evidence they can?

  30. Justin

    I’m involved in the microbiology community although I follow filoviridae and not influenza.

    The latency between transmission, contagion, and symptoms in the current H1N1 is somewhat hopeful. There is only one day of transmissibility without apparent symptoms. The mortality rate outside Mexico is low, but it’s unknown why that is the case.

    The biggest concern is that there appears to be very little immunity in the community at large, and the virus has some evidence of hypercytokinemic properties (immune response that causes fluid buildup in the lungs). Lack of immunity allows for a much stronger contagion vector as every contact person is a tranmission potential, and it allows for greater mutation potential within the population.

    The most reassuring fact so far is that this flu is treatable with Tamiflu and Relenza, and we have built up very large stockpiles both here in the US and in Asia.

    I’m betting that this will be a mild pandemic with lower mortality rates.

  31. Doc Holiday

    Smithfield Foods does more tests in Mexico on herdPope reiterated the pork industry’s message that the virus’s “swine” label is a misnomer because it is considered a mutation of many viruses. Pope noted that much remains unknown about the virus — how it originated, how it is spreading and when it will run its course — but Smithfield wants to reassure customers its products are safe.
    The company routinely vaccinates its swine herds against flu and checks monthly for flu, Pope said.

    Also see: In August 2007 (fiscal 2008), outbreaks of classical swine fever (CSF) occurred at three of our thirty-three hog farms in Romania. During the second quarter of fiscal 2008, we recorded approximately $13.0 million of inventory write-downs and associated disposal costs related to these outbreaks in the HP segment.

    Our forward-looking information and statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the statements. These risks and uncertainties include the availability and prices of live hogs and cattle, raw materials, fuel and supplies, food safety, livestock disease…

    Also see: Smithfield Ham and FluSmithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carrol, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site—a level nearly equal to Smithfield’s total U.S. hog production.

    The Mexico City daily La Jornada has also made the link. According to the newspaper, the Mexican health agency IMSS has acknowledged that the orginal carrier for the flu could be the “clouds of flies” that multiply in the Smithfield subsidiary’s manure lagoons.

    See again: Smithfield Foods Inc. said results of swine-flu tests on samples taken from its Mexican joint- venture herds are expected by the end of the week.

    The operations are cooperating with Mexican officials by submitting samples from their swine herds for genetic-sequence analysis to determine whether swine influenza is present, the Smithfield, Virginia-based company said in a statement today.

    Joint venture herds? I’m really looking for the custom vaccines that these producers apparently have, and here is an example:

    Protect Yourself and Protect Your Pigs this Flu Season, Pork Checkoff Recommends Getting Vaccinated for the Flu

    In anticipation of this flu season, the Pork Checkoff is reminding producers, farm personnel, veterinarians and others who have contact with pigs to get the flu shot. The flu season can start as early as October and can last through May.

    Dr. Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, said, “Producers and swine farm workers can reduce the risk of getting sick and bringing the flu to the farm or workplace by getting vaccinated.

    “The flu shot contains two type A viruses and one type B one. The A viruses may spread between people and pigs. The B virus is not of concern to the health of the animals,” Wagstrom said. Humans will develop antibodies that will protect them against infection with the flu virus two weeks after taking the flu shot, she added. The flu shot is available as an injection or in a nasal spray. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommends that pregnant women not get the nasal vaccine,” Wagstrom said.

    Wagstrom recommends other practices to reduce the spread of infection among workers and of the pigs with human influenza viruses. Among them is modifying sick-leave policies to encourage workers to stay away from the farm if they are suffering from acute respiratory infections. “Virus shedding is at its peak when the clinical illness is most severe, but people may remain ‘contagious’ as long as the symptoms last, from three to seven days,” she said.

    That was from: Kansas Pork AssFull Disclosure: The author is burned out, but remains interested in customized flu vaccines that were not distributed to the mass public…

  32. Doc Holiday

    This is amazing and shows corporate power at its finest!

    he World Health Organisation (WHO), bowing to pressure from meat industry producers and concerned governments, said on Thursday it would refer to a deadly new virus strain as influenza A (H1N1) not swine flu.

    "From today, WHO will refer to the new influenza virus as 'influenza A (H1N1)'," it said in a brief announcement posted on its website.

    I just read this minutes ago:

    `We're discussing, is there a better way to describe this that would not lead to inappropriate actions on people's part?'' said Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In the public, we've been seeing a fair amount of misconception … and that's not helpful.''

    CDC scientists discovered the never-before-seen strain of influenza, a mix of pig, human and bird viruses — and while scientifically it's part of the Type A/H1N1 family of influenza, they shortened the name to new swine flu.

    The World Health Organization indicated it had no plans to try to remove the term “swine'' from the flu's name.

    “This epidemic started, basically, with that name, and the virus that is identified is the swine influenza virus,'' said WHO's assistant director-general Keiji Fukuda. “And we are hopeful that the introduction of new names doesn't cause any undue confusion.''

    >> Yah got that yah dumbass people, this is not a pig problem and has nothing to do with pigs, so get out there and start eating pork!

  33. Doc Holiday

    Pardon me, but I’m friggn confused:

    1. A Houston health official said the child was a Mexican who traveled to the city for medical treatment.
    It is the first death from swine flu reported outside Mexico, the country hardest hit by this influenza outbreak. U.S. officials have confirmed 65 cases of swine flu, most of them mild but with five hospitalizations in California and Texas.
    “Unfortunately, this morning I do have to confirm that we have the first death of a child from H1N1 flu virus. And this is in Texas, a 23-month-old child,” Dr. Richard Besser, acting head of the CDC, told the CBS “Early Show.”
    “The child came to Houston for medical treatment. The family had traveled to South Texas. The child became ill and they transported the child to Houston for medical care,” Houston health department spokeswoman Kathy Barton told CNN by telephone.
    She said she did not know which part of Mexico the child came from.

    That was from the following link dated April 29:

    2. However, turns out that that sick kid had to go shopping first????

    A Mexico City toddler who became the first swine-flu death on U.S. soil spent a day with his family shopping at a huge indoor mall in Houston the day before he began to show symptoms.

    Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, who spoke with the boy’s aunt, said the family spent three nights in Houston just before he fell ill. After spending time in Houston, including at The Galleria mall, they drove the 350 miles back to Brownsville, where he was hospitalized on April 8
    Kathy Barton, spokeswoman for the Houston Health and Human Services Department, said the family didn’t mention the earlier visit to the city. She said Houston’s epidemiologist would try to re-interview the family.

    This is turning out to be chaos with the media!

  34. Po Mmi

    From the same blog (I presume) that mistah charlie’s link came from:

    The only things I’m hanging onto right now are:

    1. new virus. low resistance in the population.
    2. finite health care resources and practitioners.
    3. likelihood of tons of cases swamping resources.
    4. unknown actual severity of illness (but looking less and less remarkable as information accumulates).

    I’m thinking–hoping–that this turns out to be primarily a logistical PITA due to widespread regional work absences and heavy simultaneous healthcare use, without much individual personal tragedy.

    I’m hoping it is more worthy of cranky irritation (oh bother, the concert’s cancelled) than fear (bodies stacking up at the morgue! News at 11.)

    Posted by: Lisa the GP | April 29, 2009 1:27 PM

    By ‘hanging on to’ I mean, ‘taking as reasonably firm baseline assumptions’.

    Posted by: Lisa the GP | April 29, 2009 1:29 PM

    Lisa: Yes, I think you’ve nailed it.

    Posted by: revere | April 29, 2009 1:38 PM

  35. Juan

    As Alasdair MacIntyre has written: ‘the salient fact about those [social] sciences is the absence of the discovery of any law-like generalisations whatsoever… No economist predicted “stagflation” before it occurred…As most commonly taken, stagflation = slowing growth + rising inflation.

    So, back to July 1969:

    This Marxist analysis reached three conclusions: first, that the essential motor forces of this long-term expansion would progressively exhaust themselves, in this way setting off a more and more marked intensification of interimperialist competition; secondly, that the deliberate application of Keynesian antirecessionary techniques would step up the worldwide inflation and constant erosion of the buying power of currencies, finally producing a very grave crisis in the international monetary system; thirdly, that these two factors in conjunction would give rise to increasing limited recessions, inclining the course of economic development toward a general recession of the imperialist economy. This general recession would certainly differ from the great depression of 1929-32 both in extent and duration. Nonetheless, it would strike all the imperialist countries and considerably exceed the recessions of the last twenty years. Two of these predictions have come true. The third promises to do so in the seventies.[World Congress of the Fourth International: Documents, Intercontinental Press vol. 7 no. 26, 14 July 1969, p. 673]

    Which seems to have been a fairly correct prediction and one which even mainstream economists could have made [a few probably did] were it not for the blinding Gray partially notes as well as dependence upon an inter-locked set of very questionable axioms.

  36. Doc Holiday

    It’s been building and now I’m officially pissed off and stressed out about The Pork Lobby taking over control of The WHO and CDC.

    WTF is going on here with this lobby effort to take The P out of pigs, as if we should also take cow out of madcow and pretend to ignore the industries that are obviously involved in the spread of mutating diseases. I realize that these diseases are not conditions they want to be involved with and we would all like to have disease free slaughter houses (where cows are not fed to other cows) in order to cut costs, increase efficiency and help supply a hungry world with tasty corporate burgers — or the reality that raising, breeding and shipping livestock is in any way related to being a clean process — but where does reality fit into this new policy shift by The WHO today?

    Why is there an effort to reduce or take away the potential stigma that pigs are filthy animals that harbor diseases? Up until today, swine diseases were associated with pigs and now, it’s like these people are going to re-design and re-package what has been truth and now shade a lie with a twist of manipulation and distance fact from truth — which almost sounds like what happened on wall street, but now we get to play that banking game with peoples lives and play pea and shell games with how we should think about where the disease came from. If we can now turn this into a mystery wrapped in the shroud of a puzzle and then bury the truth and hide reality, we just may be able to jump start the pork industry and help take peoples attention away from journalistic and scientific facts.

    I suggest you go back in history to think about conditions which helped set up previous pandemic conditions back in the about 1918: The JungleThe Jungle is a 1906 novel written by author and socialist journalist Upton Sinclair. It was written about the corruption of the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century. The novel depicts in harsh tones the poverty, absence of social programs, unpleasant living and working conditions, and hopelessness prevalent among the "have-nots", which is contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption on the part of the "haves".

    >> It does piss me off that official and previously thought to be independent organizations like The WHO were far removed from the invisible hand of lobbying manipulation, but just as with our financial crisis which is a systemic failure caused by lobbying — we now have compromised health organizations that bow before pig lobby groups, and then next time, the cow lobby, the chicken lobby or any drug company that wants to change policy, e.g, what about someone like Donald Rumsfeld who was able to influence a previous push for his wonder drug, which was then flushed down the drain, because it was just a method to enrich a group of people that were able to influence the media, the government and organizations like The WHO?

    Compromised government, as we now have is taking daily steps towards building a control socialist agenda, which will look more and more like the communism in Mother Russia, circa 1972. We are failing as a society to reign in these bastard lobby groups that are shredding our rights as free people — and that pisses me off!

    "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to
    tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of
    corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will
    endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until
    the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed."
    Abraham Lincoln

    Take the P out of PorkchopsFull Disclosure: The Author will not refer to Cows as food or associate pigs with the word swine or oink, or consider that chickens are boneless. Ok, I’m done, sorry about that….

  37. skippy

    @DOC H<.".>,

    Concur and suggest all meat eaters of which I am one, should be given the proud Ancestral duty of cleaning their "own kill" for consumption.

    Think of it as a family outing, drive family out to pasture feed cattle ranch, pick out bovine of choice, pop a .22 long right between the eyes, dad can do the honors of the "coup de grace" (run up with large knife to cut the throat to bleed them out, adrenalin in the blood toughens the meat), then cut holes between tendons and bone at rear hoofs to insert hooks to raise beast in tree or tripod, making beast positioned properly for evisceration. Now insert butchers knife at groin area and in a downward motion open body cavity, take care not to rupture any organs ie spleen or bladder as it will spoil the meat, now watch as those 3 big bags of grass come popping out, to the kids delight.

    Hell make it a class room experience, Biology, Animal Husbandry, Ecology the lot, kids for extra credit can dissect he heart.

    Readers for extra credit study the Heinz family brand, its founder, his problems financially, his work to regulate the processed food industry, which was killing people with tainted products and with the governments blessings for profit. The founder even helped out in the fields and would not allow tobacco products on company grounds until the late 70s[?] and only after worker revolt, as he knew the health effects.

    Look everyone just needs to become more informed to the repercussions of their consumption/activity's, that is all, to make informed decisions and not lay the blame at some politicians/company's feet, who would of thunk it, DoH. Stop looking to the left and right of your self, and then decide who you are, make that a individual decision based on unfiltered information/critical thinking.

    Skippy…know what you consume…beware the the steak befouled by the farm boys/workers amorous attentions. Yves its all Doc's fault, he brings the rascal out in me.

  38. Doc Holiday

    Pork industry is blurring the science of swine fluSo what are the world’s top human and animal health organisations doing? Battling to keep this from harming the pork industry.
    The pork industry? People are dead and more will die. But let’s not harm pork belly prices on the Chicago futures exchange.

    I try not to get angry, but on Wednesday no less a global authority than the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said it was “mobilising a team of experts to assist government efforts to protect the pig sector from the novel H1N1 virus by confirming there is no direct link to pigs.” [Emphasis mine.]

    We can do little to protect ourselves, but by all means protect the pig sector (read: pork industry) from this virus. It must be so much easier to investigate the link between this virus and pigs when you’ve already decided what you’re going to find.

    Normally this is the kind of comical statement you expect to hear from the industry itself. Sure enough, the US company Smithfield, the world’s biggest hog producer and owner of the pig plant in Mexico near the source of this virus, says its Mexican operations are “submitting samples from their swine herds to confirm the absence of North American influenza”.

    Get that? North American flu. Not swine flu. Such is the power of the pork industry that even the top US health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are coming under painfully visible pressure not to call it swine flu.


    Skippy, hang in there and keep your meat clean and wash your hands!

  39. skippy

    Dammit, is it not us, that made the swine ill, not the other way around, by increasing their numbers and concentrations never seen by the planet before, man made increase in the evolution of illness, static feed lot farming (lol oxymoron) farming is working with in the construct of nature as best as possible with out destroying it (legacy to the next generation, dust bowls, dry rivers and lakes, massive reduction in biological life above and below the ground) due to chemical means to increase production for profit YOY, the natural firewalls of trees and natural features between crops/farms. Too run an old farm was to manage a small planet and every component was as valuable as the next for it was a puzzle and one missing piece did not make a hole.

    Thousands, tens of thousands of animals all living in one place, that need farm grown feed (water usage), pharmaceutical drugs to off set the inherent problems of over crowding of same species under on roof on and on.

    Uh O, that could be interpreted as we the human race, is just one big piggery No[?]

    Skippy…If Daniel Sadiek is your personal hero, nvm, osmosis amoeba’s.

    LOL, word verification is BONESSER, thats what I get for loving meat.

  40. skippy

    Now Yves, is really going to crutch me (the de-balling of livestock, Aussie vernacular).

    Doc H, said…Smithfield, the world’s biggest hog producer and owner of the pig plant in Mexico near the source of this virus, says its Mexican operations are “submitting samples from their swine herds to confirm the absence of North American influenza”.

    Doc, is that like asking some other guy in the toilet (drug testing), who you know is clean to piss in your cup? We got any clean new hogs (local or other wise) to take samples from with out anyones observation wink, wink/ onk onk to “submit” to our lab of choice for testing.

    Skippy…hay VG Chicago…is humor a nervous over reaction to dread?

  41. VangelV

    Can we have a reality check please. You have a poor nation with a failed healthcare system where people still die of minor ailments such as diarrhoea in which there have been about 150 reported deaths that are attributed to a swine flu virus that doesn’t seem to infect pigs. How can that be called a crisis by any mindful individual?

    If we look at the data we see that more than 500,000 people die of flu each year, including around 50K in the US. So far we have seen this strain kill only one child, which did not get the disease in the US and we are supposed to panic? Please give us a break and start to treat us as rational beings instead of imbeciles that cannot think clearly.

  42. reason

    “As far as I can tell, the death rate is high, 5-10% of infections in Mexico.”

    No that is not 5-10% of infections (no one actually knows the number of infections – that is 5-10% of reported cases based on only suspected cause of death). And from what I understand the rate of death is not unusual compared to the number of hospitalisations. Given the number of cases that are popping up outside the country, my guess is that their actually are a very large number of infections in Mexico.

  43. reason

    I’m seriously wondering WHY all the hysteria. Maybe all after SARS and the bird flu a lot of infrastructure was set up to deal with a pandemic, and their is a certain amount of institutional pressure to find one.

  44. Swine Flu Cases

    I would instead say that the markets over reacted a bit at that time. It was not complacent im my opinion. The swine flu is still persistant in most parts of the world but the markets are not affected too much. The reason is because everybody started realizing that there is no reason to panic. It is evident now that the way the markets reacted was too much and should not have been.

Comments are closed.