Mexican Flu

By , May 12, 2020 12:51 pm

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In 2009, Mexico City faced an outbreak of a flu virus. A panic shadowed over the public and the local media. Their greatest fear was that a new pandemic worthy flu was emerging in their country. Researchers identified the virus as the swine flu, which was later renamed H1N1 virus.

The majority of the people affected in Mexico were adults that were young and healthy, between the ages of three-years-old and 60-years-old. Researchers were able to determine that people who were over the age of 60 already had antibodies to this flu virus, which means they had previously been exposed to the strain that was wreaking havoc through Mexico. (1, 2)

The US public health departments were not aware of the H1N1 outbreak that was growing in Mexico City until after the country had started establishing protective measures for the sake of their population, and to prevent the disease from spreading outside of Mexican boarders. While Mexico City was facing an outbreak, health officials in Southern California were investigating mild cases of the illness.

Officials were investigating what illness was spreading rapidly, while the country was still recovering from the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. American health officials were also dealing with the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the problems surrounding bird flu (H5N1) that was taking off in Asia, but constantly threatening to cross the ocean. Given the sudden rush of events, communication between all countries was lacking, but was opening back up. However, in the case of the H1N1 flu, communication was severely delayed.

Today, the H1N1 strain of the flu virus was considered to be a pandemic. The previous pandemic the world faced was in 1968, and was centered on the Hong Kong flu, which killed about one million people around the globe. While this out may seem severe, it in no way compares to the earth shattering 20 million people who died between 1918 and 1919 from influenza. This was partially because worldwide travel was not closely regulated and the utilization of closed air systems that were utilized in flight. This allowed the virus to spread easily from one country to another with nothing standing in its way.

Scientists and researchers had found a lot of ways in which a person can support their body through wide spread cases of the flu, and anticipated that even in the case of an unknown strain of the flu, the number of deaths would be a lot less than the pandemic faced in 1968.

The reason the virus was originally declared the swine flu is because researchers located a genetic mutation of a flu virus that affected pigs, birds and humans alike. There was a point in the pandemic when Israeli health officials filed formal request asking that the name of the pandemic be changed to “Mexican flu.” This was because the term “pigs” was offensive to people of Jewish and Muslim faith. However, further research showed that even though the majority of cases initially reported were in Mexico City, the origin of the virus was yet to be determined. It was openly stated that there was nothing particularly “Mexican” about the flu virus, so the request to rename it was denied. (3)

The last time a strain of swine flu appeared was in 1976. It caused 13 soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey to become ill. Eventually, one soldier fell victim and died of the disease. The federal government was in a panic and was preparing for a new pandemic. They immunized people around the country in mass numbers, but they halted efforts when the virus did not spread further, and a number of the people who were vaccinated developed a dangerous, rare neurological disorder.

In 2001, when the swine flu pandemic created widespread panic, the American government yet again prepared a vaccine for the H1N1 flu. The government provided a large blanket coverage to pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers who were tasked with creating a vaccine to protect the public. There was no time to properly research, or test the vaccine for safety. The blanket coverage provided by the government ensured that no criminal charges, or civil suits could be brought against them on any charges surrounding side effects caused by the H1N1 vaccine.

Resources

(1) ConsumerReports.org: Adults Over May Have Protection Against Swine Flu
http://news.consumerreports.org/health/2009/05/adults-over-60-may-have-protection-against-swine-flu-seasonal-vaccines-offer-no-help.html

(2) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Serum Cross-Reactive Antibody Response to a Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus After Vaccination with Seasonal Influenza Vaccine
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5819a1.htm

(3) University of Oxford: Swine Flu Origins Revealed
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090613063849.htm

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