Officials around the world on Sunday raced to contain an outbreak of swine flu as potential new cases were reported from New Zealand to Hong Kong to Spain, raising concerns about the potential for a global pandemic.
Governments issued travel advisories urging people not to travel to Mexico, the apparent origin of the outbreak, where 81 people have died and some 1,300 have been infected. China, Russia and others set up quarantines for anyone possibly infected.
Cases of the Mexico City strain have now been confirmed in California, Texas, Kansas, and New York, with suspected cases in several other states. Thus far the American victims have suffered mostly mild symptoms, but the number of confirmed cases is not yet large enough to be statistically significant, so here’s hoping that Mexico’s mortality rate—consistently running at a stunning 6 percent as new cases are reported and confirmed—turns out to be the anomaly, not the norm.
Of course, it’s too soon to panic, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a run on surgical masks over the next few days. And this wouldn’t be a bad time for folks around these parts to restock your earthquake survival stores to make sure you have enough food to last several weeks.