Pandemic Spread of the Swine Flu

The swine flu originating from Mexico has now spread through human-human infection to a global level, one that the World Health Organization (WHO) has rated as a stage 4 pandemic. The rapid spread of this virus is not only by natural causes, but also likely by air travel out of Mexico. Perhaps this pandemic would have not occurred so quickly if the Mexican government had closed off its borders immediately following the outbreak.

Of course, by warranting such drastic measures, possible consequences include not only panic among travellers and residents in Mexico, but also dire economical consequences. Furthermore, H1N1 swine flu itself is not considered as lethal as the avian H5N1 counterpart. Therefore, border closure is given way to on-need basis travel restrictions to maintain order and economic stability.

However, one must keep in mind that there were over 140 cases of swine flu related deaths in Mexico alone. These deaths were among people that were in their prime of life- between ages 20-40. The WHO suggests that these deaths are not due to the virus alone, but may be related to respiratory problems associated with the poor air quality in Mexico. Unfortunately, there are also a many people throughout the world suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses. If the virus continues to spread, will the lives of these people be at risk?

Thankfully, the swine flu can now be controlled with the help of the flu drug Tamiflu, as well as preventive measures implemented in airports around the globe. However, considering the potentially lethal consequences of the swine flu, perhaps better preventive and quarantine measures should have been implemented long ago to stop the virus from spreading pandemically. If the virus spread had been contained earlier on by closing off the Mexican borders, the virus could have already been controlled within Mexico with the help of Tamiflu and sanitary measures. Why put more people’s lives at risk by letting the virus spread?

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