When pigs fly

 Social and Political Outcomes



“She was forbidden from touching a thing in the house. Her father raced across town hunting down Tamiflu. A  county health team suited up in goggles, smocks and double face masks on her doorstep looking like a hazmat crew.  Fearful people backed away from her mother. She missed a best friend's birthday.  And, for two hours one day, she thought she was going to die."

This is what a 16 year old girl endured in the United States after she contracted swine flu. Although this represents the extreme case, swine flu has in general not been taken lightly. Until recent studies has shown how to combat the flu, many saw swine flu as the next potential epidemic, comparable to the Black Plague.



How Dangerous is the Flu?

The reality is, most cases of swine flu are mild. During May of 2009 it is estimated that around 726 schools in the US with over 480,000 students temporarily closed to decrease the spreading of the flu. Federal officials realized that most cases in the US have been quite mild and not particularly dangerous, and that closing of schools would have little impact in its spread. The United Kingdom also pointed out the mildness of cases for them.


Effects of this flu on schools....

Cartoons for the Week of Aug. 9-15, 2009; Copyright © 2009 Creators Syndicate

The temporary closing economically affects school teachers, staff, and administrators. It causes social irritations in families because children are not allowed to attend school. Not only did elementary and high schools temporarily close, but so did many colleges nationwide including  Western Oregon University and the Harvard Dental School. There was a social outcry after the spreading of the swine flu, but many claim that swine’s oink is worse that its flu.


There has been an economic footprint in the global economy. Face Mask sales are breaking records in both Mexico and Sweden. With the fear of swine flu being so infectious, global airline companies and cruise operators find themselves with a significant decrease in business. Many were now extremely hesitant to vacation or visit Mexico because swine flu originated in Mexico. With the already tumbling economy, travel agents, hotels, vacation spots, and such are already losing customers. With the combination of a potentially fatal flu, many people did not want to leave the comfort of their homes. World stock markets dropped because many thought that the epidemic would setback any economic recovery. Travel and trade was now seemingly “endangered” posing a threat to the global economy, especially that of North American countries. Russia and Ukraine have even gone so far as to ban pork imports from Mexico and several U.S. states.


Ya, ya....what does Obama have to say about all this?

The swine flu has had political impacts as well as economic and social ones. President Obama said there was reason for a "heightened state of alert," but "not a cause for alarm." The government released 25% of the anti-flu drugs to the United States. Public health officials highly recommended people to wash their hands frequently, stay home if sick, and close schools if there's a flu outbreak. Politics came into play as to how the federal government should distribute the vaccines and medication recently created.


What about Mexico?

Perhaps the country to suffer most from swine flu is Mexico, the genesis of the illness. Yahoo! News stated that “Mexico City has closed gyms, swimming pools and other public places. Restaurants have been banned from serving food, limited to serving takeout only. The severe changes in Mexican establishments thus affect how politicians must react to the situation.


A lot of the social issues surrounding swine flu concern simply how scientists and other officials should react to the flu and judge the risks involved. Bioethics definitly comes into play.  Dr. Cheryl Olsen explores this issue in the video below.
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