Tuesday, May 19, 2009

As if "pigs got wings"

The world is swine flu in the worldthreatened by a flu which had the nerve to even rock the economic markets in the world due to the fear of its spread which could hamper a lot of industries such as tourism and aviation in particular. Countries affected by the disease got added on day after day as if the swine could fly, thereby spreading the worth of its sneeze around the world.

The time one read about pigs flying was in Lewis Carroll's " Alice In Wonderland" where it as first spoken when the Duchess told Alice that she had as much right to think as "pigs have to fly". In "Through the Looking Glass", the Walrus and the Carpenter walked along the beach pondering,"whether pigs can fly". Many years later, in the year 2009, they seem to have done just that.

A new swine flu pandemic threatens to sweep the face of the earth and while some call it the Mexican Flu, the USA's renowned centre for Disease control has steered clear of any controversy by referring to the disease as the "H1N1" flu.

The reason for the above is due to the inconclusiveness of whether the virus actually originated from pigs and calling the outbreak as "swine flu' has already confused people into believing that they can get infected by eating pork products which has naturally infuriated the international pork industry and the Goan pork butchers are helplessly fuming.

The World organisation for animal health (OIE) and the the apex body of human health the WHO disagree on the nomenclature. OIE opines that the virus doing the damage at present is a cocktail virus of mixed human, avian and swine origin and should be called " North American Flu". Traditionally, influenza pandemics are named after the regions where they originated, like the Spanish flu - 1918-19, Asian flu - 1957-58 and Hong Kong Flu - 1967-68. But the World Health Organization is not getting carried away and sticking to its version - "Swine Flu".

Mexico has seen the biggest hit of the Flu with over 100 deaths swine flu preventions in Goa reported and is therefore the worst affected. Tourism being the biggest source of revenue for Mexico after Oil, the country is hard hit by the outbreak. Its tourism industry has lost more than Rs 5000 crores in revenues since the outbreak leaving its airports, beaches and hotels empty with occupancies less than 20%, at a time of the year when it is above 90%.

However the swine hasn't stopped here. It has flown. To the US, Canada, New Zealand, Israel and even western Europe, Germany, the UK and Spain have all recorded cases of swine flu with twelve other European Union (EU) countries looking at suspected cases.

Business rating agency Moody's has already stated that the Swine flu scare could adversely impact investment and business confidence even in countries such as India causing a drag in economic activity like household consumption, business investment as well as further pull down and already beleaguered tourism trade sector reeling under the effects of recession.

The government of Goa has therefore rightly taken precautionary measures to prevent the invasion of the disease into the state of Goa.

For the readers of this post if you are in danger of getting swine flu, it is good to make a check. Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs but has been known to spread to human beings. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body ache, headache, chills and fatigue. Extreme cases can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure causing death.

It is believed that the flu spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People are also known to be infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Doorknobs, switches and lift buttons are common transmission points. Infected people can spread the infection from day one even before the symptoms develop which means that you can pass on the flu before you know the person concerned is sick.

To avoid swine flu, regularly wash your hands with soap, try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated by the virus and avoid close contact with people whoa re sick. Those who get infected can be treated by anti-viral medicines which are available in Goa as also the rest of India.

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