Reuters has reported what we already suspected: The horse is out of the barn for swine flu in the United States.
The only question now is what will happen. And how quickly will this novel influenza virus burn through the country? Alright, that is two questions.
Here is the Reuters story:
CDC says too late to contain U.S. flu outbreak
WASHINGTON, April 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it was too late to contain the swine flu outbreak in the United States.
CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser told reporters in a telephone briefing it was likely too late to try to contain the outbreak, by vaccinating, treating or isolating people.
"There are things that we see that suggest that containment is not very likely," he said.
He said the U.S. cases and Mexican cases are likely the same virus. "So far the genetic elements that we have looked at are the same." But Besser said it was unclear why the virus was causing so many deaths in deaths in Mexico and such mild disease in the United States.
What were we thinking? that we could actually contain something that passed directly under our noses and exposed the Maginot Line that is US influenza surveillance?
Back in January, 2008, a great thinker and patriotic American strongly suggested we turn our attention to the south when monitoring for novel influenza viruses. Oh wait, that was -- me! I refer to my blog, http://www.scottmcpherson.net/journal/2008/1/15/us-government-validates-the-need-to-look-south-for-bird-flu.html , AKA "Government validates the need to look south for bird flu." In that blog, I mentioned that experts were growing increasingly concerned with our inability to monitor what went on south of us.
And that is really indicative of how we treat Latin America. While we spend all our time looking east and west, we leave our soft underbelly exposed.
The speed with which this story is moving is nothing short of amazing! What an opportunity to "go to school" on this issue. When we thought we had three weeks, we now have no earthly idea how much time we have until the virus either burns out or burns through our communities.