The World Health Organization has made it official: the swine flu is a pandemic. They've raised the alert level from 5 to 6. They're reporting rising numbers of those affected by the H1N1 strain.
Honestly, I don't know what to think. The last flu epidemic killed about 1,000,000 people back in the late 60s. That's a pretty scary number. And yet, the New York Times reports that every year between 250,000 and 500,000 people die from the flu. So pandemic or not--there are a lot of people affected by even the simple strain virus.
A good friend of mine here in Oaxaca has a co-worker who's child is infected with swine flu. He's still going to work, donning a face mask, of course. My first reaction was, "What is he doing?! Tell him he MUST go home!" And a day later I'd almost utterly forgotten about it. Is our collective memory as a society too short to heed the warnings of a pandemic? Or are we merely reacting appropriately to something we can't really avoid.
Wash your hands. Eat well. Rest well. Get to the doctor if you're feeling ill. What more can we do...? I say, more pictures of cute children wearing face masks, for sure!
*photo taken from the NY Times online.