back to article Mexico? US? Just don't go there, warns EU health chief

Spain has confirmed one case of swine flu in the east of the country, as the European Commissioner for Health warned against unnecessary travel to the countries at the centre of the outbreak. The warning came ahead of reports that the World Health Organisation was considering upping its alert level to an unprecedented high …


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  1. SpeakerToAliens
    Dead Vulture

    Yes but will the airlines play ball...

    ...or will they simply tell you "No refunds!" because the government hasn't actually banned travel there?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news

    Far more people were killed in road accidents in Mexico. No action taken.

    Coming up at 10. Dog bites man.

  3. Ralf Muschall

    Not necessarily 103 flu deaths

    In other news sources, the 103 deaths are attributed to respiratory infections, and just about 20 of them are positively tested for flu.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. David Pollard

    Thankfully no spores from space yet

    So far we have been spared the embarrassment of Chandra Wickramasinghe and his small horde of acolytes promoting Fred Hoyls's sci-fi notion that 'flu arrives from space.

    Though most will dismiss such a notion as a silly story, some do seem to end up believing it with near-fanatical devotion. If there is a serious pandemic this won't help at all.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Clear and present Danger

    Any chance we can send a hi powered delegation on a fact finding mission, headed, by, oh, a name picked at random, Waqui Jacqui?

    Paris, it's Monday and I've had a sh*t day OK?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is like the horesmen of the apocalypse

    international travel is kinda dangerous - the outbreaks are happening in Scotland and Lancashire it will be in London by the morn.


  8. Andy Bright

    I'm not going down alone..

    I've got a bin bag full of used tissues that I'm going to spread around town, wipe on car door handles, hide under cushions and down the back of couches. If I'm going to die in the flu-apocalypse I'm taking all of you bastards with me..

  9. Charles Manning

    Are we all dead yet?

    SARS, Y2K, Bird Flu, AIDS, Mexican Swine Flu....

    We're freaking out about relatively few deaths here.

    Every year TB kills over 1million, malaria kills 2 million. Where are the OMG! headlines?

  10. Captain DaFt

    Sorry Andy

    But it won't work with me. There were several flu outbreaks during my school days that took their toll on students (local outbreaks, one nearly shut down the school it occurred at.), and there I was was, never missing a day of class for illness. Darn the luck!

    (Maybe I was just too bored to be infected?)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Errm, careful here

    IF this stuff is contagious you're talking about quite a dangerous version of the flu here, and a disease doesn't exactly spread in a linear fashion, it's exponential. You need only a few vectors to hit a whole country, provided they infect anything that transports.

    In London, you have this facility that spreads live viri faster than Outlook does it with computer infections - it's called the Underground. Especially combined with the habit of some people to miss their annual bath twice in a row you have everything you need to nicely share the pleasures of swine flu, and I didn't see anything in UK supermarkets to help contain an epidemic. No masks, no kits with gloves and hand wash - nothing.

    It takes but one. I suggest yuou start washing your hands as soon as you get to the office, and only then think about touching food, mouth and eyes. And breathe though your nose.

    I *really* hope it doesn't spread. SARS was a good example of what can happen, and that was contained mainly in HK.

    Laugh all you want, but start at least planning.

  12. Dave Bell

    We don't know, yet.

    A 'flu pandemic doesn't have to kill millions to mess us up. We're in a world of just-in-time distribution. One truck breaking down can cut off half a town's bread supply.

    If a lot of people get this one, and are unfit to work for a couple of weeks, we're in a mess. We can live without the call centres and clothes shops, but we can need some sort of state of emergency, just to keep the essentials running.

    But the longer before it explodes into a pandemic, the better. It takes time to produce a vaccine effective against this new strain. And people choosing not to travel to Mexico will help buy time.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Ignorance is bliss

    The 1918-1919 'spanish' flu pandemic was a strain of H1N1 flu. The death toll in that single year is estimated at between 20-50 million people in Europe.

    In 1918 they weren't jetting around the world in a matter of hours or cramming onto commuter trains and tube systems.

    In the case of the Spanish flu, many of the deaths were from pneumonia and respiratory difficulties within hours of showing symptoms. The mortality rate of the Spanish flu was 2.5%

    So even though the media do tend to run around screaming "we're all going to die!" in the case of flu pandemics there is real need for concern.

    I find the ignorance of the comments on this page pretty scary because presumably when any of you start sneezing & coughing, you are simply going to dismiss it with the old terrormongering arguments and then jump on a train and start snotting over hundreds of people at a time.

    It is the attitude of the population which has the biggest effect in containing / spreading viruses, unfortunately even the apparently well educated don't seem to have a clue.

    Even the 'normal' human flu strains kill a small number of people every year. It wouldn't be so funny if it were your daughter

    If you do contract the virus you are infectious for up to 5 days before showing any symptoms. There is only a small % chance of death, however you could feel seriously ill for up to 10 days. Much worse than any man-flu you have ever had.

    Graph theory & network analysis have shown the '7 degrees of separation' theory to be real. So one infected person on the daily sardine run on the train to work could infect thousands of people.

    So if you are feeling a bit ropey, please don't go to work.

  14. neb
    Thumb Up

    @James Greenhalgh


    you bad man


  15. Dennis
    Dead Vulture

    No need to woryy about the credit crunch now

    Get out and spend, spend, spend.

    By the time the bills come we will all be dead with our only legacy an entry on the Jacqui Database saying.

    'spent a loads of money before dying'

    Helped the economy.

    Used to write on anti Government Websites - Terrorist!

    Desperately trying to find an IT Angle.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Andy Bright

    Is that a threat to commit acts of bio-terrorism?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    is this the end . ?

    this little blog go's a step to far ..but is a good read on whats going on ....

    tinfoil hats at the rdy

  18. Rob

    @Charles Manning

    i think that may be because those are not airborne & contagious, on the other hand, i'm finding it hard to take this one too seriously after the bird flu non-event.

    this one seemed to come out of nowhere as well, one moment it's

    "oh there's a new flu to be terrified of in mexico" and barely a day later

    "be afraid, be very afraid, it's reached the uk already!"

    slow news day maybe, or are there global events ticking over that we are best not made aware of according to our benevolent leaders?

  19. richard

    can we just shut up about this..

    "A 22-year old Spanish student, who had just returned from Mexico, is being treated for fever and respiratory symptoms. His condition is not serious."

    i'll re-quote:

    "His condition is not serious."

    so can we please stop the total bollox scaremongering a la bbc/sky/the sun, it's a load of shite, we'd rather worry about our tax bills, mortgages and the price of gin.


  20. Sean Aaron

    Too late

    My trip Stateside was booked months ago. Good thing is it doesn't sound like I'm going to get stranded there and the flu strain is milder. I suspects all the facts aren't known yet on what exactly is happening in Mexico that's killing people. Either that or the virus spread has mutated to the point where it's not as dangerous.

  21. Michael Fremlins

    Sexing up?

    When SARS was in the news, we had Private Jones running about telling us not to panic. Now we have some pig flu, and Jones is at it again.

    So influenza can kill. I accept that, and we all know about the 1918 pandemic (thanks to a paragraph seeming to be in every report about somebody with a runny nose). But some people appear conspicuously keen to sex up every possible outbreak into the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it event. Typically these people are WHO staffers, and their willing servants are the mis-reporters in the mass media. Ebola? We're all going to die. Flu? We're all going to die. Runny nose? You have flu and will die. Travel to Mexico? You will die. But's it's too late, cos it's here now anyway, so you will die.

    For some people at the WHO and similar organisations, it seems the news is more important than the event. Their raison d'etre is to try to scare us all. They want to be first to tell us "We told you this would happen". For them, mass deaths are topical. And topicality, to quote George Smiley, is always suspect.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Oh, for fucks sake

    being a child of the 80s, I can remember the AIDS scare ... we were all going to die of AIDS.

    Then it was BSE, we were all going to die of that.

    Then foot and mouth,

    Then SARS

    Then bird flu


  23. Winkypop Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    It's a fake

    No swine flu.

    Just a planted news story to take the focus off:

    - GFC

    - US Torture perps

    - The great asteroid collision *

    * Will not become news until June 24th

  24. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Oh, for fucks sake

    Erm, you realise that not everything that's going to happen is going to happen according to what happened before. Just saying, like. I don't know if you remember but the main worry about bird flu was that it would mutate to transfer between humans rather than only from bird to human. Swine flu has achieved that. So it's already a bit different.

    I don't think there's any need to panic, from what I've gathered so far, but being sensible about these things also means engaging your brain a bit and not just flapping your hand in dismissal because the papers have gone batshit.

    I get the sense some kind of bad news saturation point has been reached, though, and everyone is so weary from the constant economic gloom reports that the threat of a major virus is like, whatever, I've already hit maximum glum level. And yeah, we think we've seen it all before.

  25. Graham Marsden

    @Michael Fremlins

    Jones was actually a Lance Corporal...

  26. Robert Hill

    Important FACTS:

    1) The 1918 virus (H1N1, of which this one is a direct decendant), was very odd in sevaral ways, the first is that it didn't strike in one wave, instead it broke in three seperate waves of infection within a year, the first being relatively mild but widespread. That was nearly unprecedented, and has not been repeated since. More oddly, most influenze outbreaks occur during periods of cold weather, as the nasal passages are more receptive to infection when cold. The 1918 outbreak's first wave broke that patter, occuring IN THE SPRING of 1918, even in warm climates. Interestingly enough, so is 2009's outbreak occuring at that same rare time, and even in warm climates.

    2) What really made the 1918 outbreak remarkable was it's pattern of deaths. Nearly all flu outbreaks have a "U" shaped mortality pattern when graphed against age, killing the youngest and oldest dispropportionally. The 1918 outbreaks had a "W" shaped mortality curve, that killed people in their prime of life equally to the extremes. It is the only influenze virus outbreak to do so, and the reasons for that virulence has never been well explained or understood according to the CDC website that I garnered this info from.

    3) The 1918 outbreak killed > 2.5% of those infected, and yet the deathtoll still ran into the tens of millions...admittedly not a large number in the overall scheme of things, BUT enough to still cause a massive dislocation of society for a while, especially if we get a "W" shaped mortality curve.

    From all of this, the only thing I can watch is the mortality curve statistics, and anything that looks like a series of infection short, things that reflect the signals of another out of pattern outbreak.

  27. Bod

    Re: Ignorance is bliss

    1918 hit a population with poor health care and living standards

    Mexico has poor health care and living standards

    H1N1, even in a new strain, is very well known and researched, and treatments exist in most countries with decent health care to deal with it (at least no worse than the usual deaths in vulnerable groups due to Flu).

    So it's not hard to see why there is scepticism. It is however irresponsible (of the media) to go around spreading essentially FUD about millions of potential deaths for a situation which is largely unknown and unproven at this stage (referring back to the lack of concrete proof that all the Mexican deaths are actually due to Swine Flu).

    Statistically westerners in countries like the UK have more to fear from getting out of bed in the morning, eating your breakfast and crossing the road. Do we have mass panic over this? No.

    And as said, it's sad that we get panic over a tiny amount of deaths and infections due to this and yet don't care at all at the millions of deaths due to TB, Malaria, etc. It's sickening really.

  28. Michael Fremlins

    @Graham Marsden

    You are absolutely right. My mistake.

  29. Johnny G

    But you're wrong...

    "Spain has confirmed one case of swine flu in the east of the country, as the European Commissioner for Health warned against unnecessary travel to the countries at the centre of the outbreak."

    That's not quite right though is it? Androulla Vassiliou says "Personally, I would try to avoid non-essential travel to the AREAS which are reported to be in the centre of the clusters, in order to minimise the personal risk and to reduce the potential risk to spread the infection to other people."

    Areas, not countries. As Lester says in an article today, the virus is "currently making short work of journalistic common sense". Here here.

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