Advanced Search

Please click here to take a brief survey

Swine Flu: We're All In This Together
Sarah Kuck, 28 Apr 09

Some Catholics gathered yesterday at the Metropolitan Cathedral (in Mexico City). They prayed for the sick people, the government and the rest of the society. Hoping they make "good decisions" against the swine flu epidemic in our country.

Ayer 26 de Abril, algunos católicos se reunieron en la catedral metropolitana (México D.F.) para pedir a Dios. Por los enfermos, los tomadores de decisiones y la sociedad en general. Para que hagan "lo correcto" frente a la epidemia de influenza porcina en nuestro país.

In our globally connected world, we can fly to distant lands in a matter of hours, ship cargo in only a few days and meet instantly online. This connectivity is changing the rules of proximity, allowing everything to move quickly, from news and culture, to people and viruses.

Today, global citizens woke up to more news of international Swine Flu reports. Since last weekend, we’ve been watching this story unfold, and wondering with the rest of the world how this came about and what we should do to protect ourselves.

Although the verdict is still out on exactly how the Swine Flu outbreak began, many epidemiologists are suggesting that the origins of the outbreak may have to do with human proximity to livestock. Henry I. Miller, a physician, molecular biologist, and fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, writes this for the Wall Street Journal:

Flu viruses can be directly transmitted (via droplets from sneezing or coughing) from pigs to people, and vice versa. These cross-species infections occur most commonly when people are in close proximity to large numbers of pigs, such as in barns, livestock exhibits at fairs, and slaughterhouses. And, of course, flu is transmissible from human to human, either directly or via contaminated surfaces.

Miller, a former flu researcher, states that these infections are particularly dangerous in places like China, Mexico and Indonesia, places with high populations, where local public health officials lack the “expertise, coordination, discipline and infrastructure” to identify human outbreaks at the earliest stages, which he states is the most cost-effective way to contain a pandemic.

These events demonstrate that good surveillance is needed in order to detect early on that a new infectious agent, transmissible between humans, has emerged. Unfortunately, conditions in many countries are conducive to the emergence of such new infectious agents, especially flu viruses, which mutate rapidly and inventively. Intensive animal husbandry procedures that place poultry and swine in close proximity to humans, combined with unsanitary conditions, poverty and grossly inadequate public-health infrastructure of all kinds -- all of which exist in Mexico, as well as much of Asia and Africa -- make it unlikely that a pandemic can be prevented or contained at the source.

For us, news of the Swine Flu ultimately triggered thoughts about the really hard, challenging things we must do to create a bright green future: be prepared, globally, enable a future forward diet, stabilize the bottom billion and create a globally transparent society. Each of which could empower people with the tools and models they need to either stave off a pandemic or more effectively contain an outbreak.

The Swine Flu is just one of many events highlighting our interconnectedness and responsibility to each other, reminding us that our global resilience is only as effective as the resilience at the base of the pyramid. Events like this are magnifying our connectivity, and further emphasizing the great need for those with the means to empower the impoverished, to work toward a world free of suffering, and to create a model of prosperity worth having. Whether we live in the North or South, we are equal in the eyes of a virus. The health of someone in a Mexican shop or a Chinese farm now directly relates to the health of us all. We're all in this together.

Empowering and respecting others as a method for protecting against global pandemics is an issue we frequently discuss at Worldchanging. For more global health and emergency relief stories from a sustainability angle, check out our archives:

Bird Flu: Can We Out-Collaborate a Pandemic?

Mapping a Pandemic" Community Response Grids for Emergency Preparedness

The Architecture for Humanity/WorldChanging Tsunami Reconstruction Appeal

Disaster Relief in a Box

Open Source Disaster Relief - by Email

Networks v. Epidemics

Medical Data, Global Health

Image credit: Flickr/sarihuella, CC license

Bookmark and Share


Great article. Resilience is the only strategy capable of thwarting market failures, ecological catastrophes, criminal networks, and pandemics.

At the very least, it is imperative that we form resilient communities which are self-sufficient in terms of power, water, and food. We must also shift towards community clinics stocked with all the necessary supplies, perhaps according to Kevin Carson's model of Open Source Healthcare.

Posted by: Edward on 29 Apr 09

You are right!

We all are in this today whether you're in America,Asia,Europe or even Africa.

Our greatest focus now should be how to deal swine flu.Arming the average folk with useful about how to avoid contacting the deadly virus and how to manage cases

Posted by: how to deal with swine flu on 29 Apr 09

These days there's more articles about it in the news
than people who have actually contracted swine flu
more people gonna die driving in their cars
but that don't make news like new flus or SARS

35,000 deaths occur every flu season
we weren't concerned last year, what's the reason?
i'm not saying that you shouldn't be worried
but worry on the news gets bigger in a hurry

to hear me rap my full opinion, watch:

Posted by: journalrhythm on 29 Apr 09

Well I guess we could start by refusing to eat meat from factory farms that feed pigs chicken shit or chickens pig shit. But then, we'd have to be prepared to pay more for organic production.

Posted by: Bob Thomson on 1 May 09

I find it a bit silly that with evidence of global warming advancing, an ongoing war in Iraq, an escalating war in Afghanistan, and all the other myriad problems in our world, so many people are focusing on what amounts to a mild flu outbreak.

It's now turning out that many of the deaths initally attributed to swine flu actually had other causes. Meanwhile, not one person outside Mexico has become deathly ill.

Perhaps one of the worst responses we could have is to hide from this. After all, this flu strain is still weak, yet contains DNA from two types of swine flu, one type of avian flu, and one type of human flu. Any person with a healthy immune system who contracts this now will gain some immunity to all of these. More imprtantly, if this flu mutates to a deadlier, more virulent strain, those who initially became sick from it will already be immune to the harsher version.

Posted by: quasimatter on 4 May 09

Post A Comment

Please note that comments will remain open for only 14 days after the article is posted. While previous comments will remain visible, attempts to post new comments after this period will fail. This helps stop comment spam, so your forebearance is appreciated.

The Worldchanging comments are meant to be used for further exploration and evaluation of the ideas covered in our posts. Please note that, while constructive disagreement is fine, insults and abuse are not, and will result in the comment being deleted and a likely ban from commenting. We will also delete at will and without warning comments we believe are designed to disrupt a conversation rather than contribute to it. In short, we'll kill troll posts.

Finally, please note that comments which simply repost copyrighted works or commercial messages will be summarily deleted.

Yes No







MESSAGE (optional):

Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg