Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."



About ten days ago some of my Twitterati friends were declaring the impending apocalypse of H1N1 (aka swine flu). Now that Mexico has gone several days without a death from this virus, the variety of interpretations has been vast: from BBC News's quote of the World Health Organization's Director of Global Alert and Response that the spread is "not sustained" to GMA News's alarmist declaration that this virus "... could mutate and come back with a vengeance".

Now Mexican authorities are downgrading their death toll by nearly 50% -- to 101 suspected deaths and just 19 confirmed. While tragic, these numbers are about equivalent to the fatality statististics seen in seasonal (non-Type A) influenza, which claims more than 30,000 lives annually. The single fatality in the U.S. was a 23-month old toddler visiting Texas from Mexico City (where 22,000,000 citizens suffer from the worst air pollution in the world -- compounded by the thin air at a base elevation of nearly 7,000' (2,200m) above sea level).

The best pundit of all has turned out to be Randall Munroe, who (in his brilliant comic xkcd) says "Twitter is great for watching uninformed panics unfold live."

While I do not correlate Twitter-spread misinformation with yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, I do believe a higher level of personal discretion is important. Do your own research, exercise your own personal hygeine (one of the positive by-products of this past week) and maintain sufficient supplies in your home to ensure your own local resilience: Awareness + Preparedness + Capability = Resilience.

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