Over the last few years, different epidemics have suddenly taken our planet by storm. In the early part of this new century, we were hit with SARS. This virus took the lives of many, but was eventually beaten —this time. Following a few years of relative quiet in the world of major health issues, we – the people of planet Earth – were suddenly once again attacked by a virus named “Bird Flu”. This particular strain of influenza came from – as the name suggests – birds and chickens or from any animal with wings. If memory serves, China was hit hard by bird flu and because of that country’s geographical location to Japan, the Japanese themselves began to panic. The government of Japan, tried to contain the virus, but alas many a chicken met its maker. Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets across the nation suffered major losses as the populace abstained from munching on the “finger-licking good” treats. The United Nations agency, WHO, marked bird flu as a killer and began to combat the virus. Thousands upon thousands of birds (mainly chickens) were destroyed and once again, the human race was triumphant.
And now, in the early part of 2009, we have once again been plunged into another life-threating battle. This time we are up against a flu virus aptly named “Swine Flu” as it apparently comes from pigs. In 1918 the entire planet suffered an epidemic of this particular flu and it would seem that we are headed for a rematch. Unlike 1918, however, medicial technology has advanced significantly with vaccines and other antibiotics having been invented to fight this virus. The question that everyone wants to know the answer to is, how do these virus’s start? In the case of Swine Flu, did it start because some pig farmer was handling sick pigs? And if this is true, how does one spot a pig with the virus? Short of calling George Orwell from the grave and having the pigs talk, there was no way to foresee this epidemic coming.
The country of Mexico is, at this time, besieged with Swine Flu with the loss of 81 lives and hundreds of others ill. Government’s of the world begin countermeasures to ensure the safety of their citizens. Here, in Japan, visitor’s to this island nation are tested as they arrive at international airports around the country. Special infra-red cameras, scan the health conditions of arrivals as they walk into airport terminals. These scans are performed without the knowledge of the visitor. A monitor, manned by staff, is constantly watched and if a person’s body temperature in high, staff are soon alerted and are able to single out that person and separate him or her from others. Doctors are stationed around airports, ready to “swing into action.” In the small country of New Zealand; some of a group of high school students returning from a trip to Mexico have shown symptoms of having contracted the virus, although until all tests are complete, nothing can be confirmed. All of the students and staff returning from this trip, have been put into quarantine pending the out come of said tests. The government of New Zealand expresses confidence it is able to fight Swine Flu and has assured the nation that preparations have been put into effect.
So once again the human race is tested by nature and once again we will fight this new threat and will – in my opinion – prevail yet again. I long for the day to come, when virus’s such as Swine Flu, bird Flu, the common everyday flu and other such virus’s are finally eradicated from the planet. However, I’m sure some other disease will raise its ugly head and once again the world will be thrown into turmoil.
A side note: For those of you that didn’t understand the George Orwell reference, I was referring to his novel, “Animal Farm”. A good read and I highly recommend it.