An ominous lead to a Chicago Tribune story about the flu outbreak in Mexico:
'Swine flu has world on alert : In Mexico, schools closed Friday for 6.1http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif million students across the capital and its suburbs as officials sought to contain the spread of a swine flu outbreak that may have infected hundreds of people and killed as many as 60. In the U.S., authorities said they had found one new case in San Diego, which brings the total number of American cases to eight.' AP: 'It's touched off worries of a pandemic. ... It might already be too late to contain the outbreak, a prominent U.S. pandemic flu expert said late Friday.'
The New York Times offers more concern:
Because of the situation, the World Health Organization planned to consider raising the world pandemic flu alert to 4 from 3. Such a high level of alert — meaning that sustained human-to-human transmission of a new virus has been detected — has not been reached in recent years, even with the H5N1 avian flu circulating in Asia and Egypt, and would “really raise the hackles of everyone around the world,” said Dr. Robert G. Webster, a flu virus expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
TIME magazine notes that the Centers for Disease Control is preparing a vaccine, should the outbreak becomes worse.
One piece of good news, if "good" can be used in connection with this story, is that the CDC is not advising people to cancel planned trips to Mexico. Interestingly, this summer the International Association for Media and Communication Research is holding its international convention in Mexico City. I checked the IAMCR and the convention Web sites, and there is no warning about or information relating to the flu outbreak.
UPDATE: Late this afternoon, new flu cases were reported in Kansas. There also is a likelihood that a New York City high school could be the site of eight new cases (though there is no certainty that strain is connected to the Mexico strain). Finally, a British Airways crew member arrived home Saturday with flu-like symptoms; that person had been in Mexico City.
This collective information will raise fears of a pandemic, but caution is still the appropriate term, according to health officials. Because this news story began to break on a Friday, the heavy news cycle that would be consistent with such a story will not yet be felt. However, it is impossible to ignore that this is the national story of the day, and it has local relevance no matter the market in which you live.