Swine flu comes to town

Sacramento has once again stumbled into the eye of a media storm, this time with the revelation that at least one student in the area has the dreaded swine flu. Fortunately this seems to be a mild version that may help to build up our antibodies before the more dangerous version strain comes to town, but it is still likely to be a very interesting turn of events. 

Here are a couple of quick bits that I’ve found, which I think will be useful for people to be doing now. With any luck, we will just have a nasty flu, but it seems like there is going to be some sort of intense government reaction, possibly including quarantines. We would all be wise to prepare contingency plans.

Even before the CDC confirmed that Sacramento is on the leading edge of this new virus’ international spread, the school in question was shut down for several days, inspriring some impromptu cooperation:

The Sacramento Bee reports that:

The closure, which Pritchard learned about in an e-mail from the school Sunday afternoon, spurred a frantic hunt for alternative child care, Pritchard said. “When the e-mail went out, everyone went into a scramble mode,” he said. “I got calls from two parents” with offers like “if you take my kids for one day, we can take your kid for a day.”

This is good, as long as participants are vigilant about early signs of illness; informal daycare situations can be quite efficient disease vectors. So ideally make some sort of arrangement about who can host, and chip in for sanitizer, disposable cups, etc. Start planning now, because it is pretty likely that there will be further scares.

The Guardian reports that, “if the situation deteriorates the health secretary, Alan Johnson, is considering warning the entire population to set up a support network of friends and relatives so they can be quickly quarantined at home if they are thought to have swine flu symptoms. The friends would then collect medicine on their behalf. ”

Similar networks could be called on for food and other supplies, because we can’t afford to have sick people . So figure out which of your neighbors might be able to help run to the store and get you whatever you need. Redundancy is key, because if this thing does get bad and there is widespread illness, it is quite possible that your first pick may get sick too. Ideally, set up a network of houses near yours; find out who has the cash or credit to help you with your shopping if you get sick. Settle up later after the contagion has passed (money is dirty! dirty dirty dirty!), or better yet, set up a Paypal account (note to Paypal, please contact me about a commission for any swine flu networks). Local is key. Disease spreads by travel, so the more you can shop near your house, the better, so this is a great time to call on your neighbors. Do this now, before people start freaking out and stop answering the door.

If we’re lucky this bug will play out without doing too much damage. But it looks like we’re in for a wild ride until it does, at least in hot spots like Sacramento.

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