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H1N1
If the bug doesn't get you, the PTK will

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
April 25, 2009

It doesn't take long for rumors to get started on the web. Two days ago, I noticed a story about some cases of severe respiratory flu breaking out in southern California and in Texas along the border. I passed the article along on my news feed, but didn't give it any special emphasis other than to also forward it to a friend who had just recovered from a nasty bout of flu. I didn't have any particular reason to think that the bug that bit him was the same bug mentioned in the article, but figured if he thought there might be any kind of link, he could probably mention it to his doctor.

In less than thirty six hours, I was getting emails about how this was a “weaponized” strain of flu, designed by evil people for bad intent against various groups, presumably groups of not-so-bad people. One was passed along to me by someone who usually sends articles about the Club of Rome, the 300, and how alien emissaries from Arcturus want to help us ascend to a higher level of consciousness in the year 2012. It's not a part of my “A-list” reading material.

This particular item was from an outfit called the “National Solutions Foundation,” and advised against panic, but urged everyone to get out of the United States while they still could, or die horribly. That's always a good way to make sure people keep calm.

In a way, it was a shame, because from there, the article did take a rather calm approach, and the case it made for a budding health problem in Mexico and the southern US was, if anything, a bit understated. It mentioned 61 dead and over 1,000 infected in Mexico, which jibes with the official figures put out by the Mexican government, and it notes accurately that all schools and public gatherings have been canceled in Mexico City in an effort to contain the outbreak. It understated the effects of the disease in the US, claiming eight infections (more mainstream articles claim 10).

Unfortunately, it's at this point that the article, predictably, goes somewhat off the rails. It goes on to say: “I believe, on the contrary, that you SHOULD alter you travel plans. If you have any means to, or reason to, or thoughts of, being outside the US and Mexico RIGHT NOW, do it. Get a ticket and get out. Why? Because the flu may not sicken or kill you, but the forced vaccinations very well may.

It has also been noted in officialdom that although there is no evidence that this year's seasonal flu would provide cross 'protection,' that 'possibility' is being 'studied.' 5 will get you 10 that the official pronouncement comes forth that, indeed, this year's flu vaccine /miraculously/ confers 'protection' against this mystery disease and, aren't we lucky? We can all take the Seasonal Flu vaccine and get 'protected' I will be literally astonished if that is not the thrust of this 'investigation' of a 'lucky coincidence'.”

And I thought I overused quotation marks in my essays!

The article wanders off into the realm of paranoia after that, with “The Powers That Kill (PTK) decided some time ago that there were simply too many of us 'Useless Eaters' and they have concocted several schemes to accomplish the culling to get rid of what the US Government, the UN, WHO and others have decided is 'necessary' for a sustainable planet: 80-90% of us /dead/.”

To this end, apparently, they haven't concocted an actual pandemic, but rather a vaccine that will kill millions more than the flu would have, perhaps billions more. Those PTKs are real jerks, you know?

Still, even at this point, there is actually material that is of value to people. If the authorities DO announce there is a vaccine for the flu, should the pandemic actually materialize (and yes, it really could), be deeply suspicious. And no, I don't believe it's because there are PTKs lurking in the clinics.

There's three classes of flu, each separated into various subtypes and from there, into strains. Type A is the worst of the three, being found in both humans and other warm-blooded animals, and is the most mutagenic and produces the most severe symptoms. It's separated into subcategories, designated as “H1N1”. Bird flu, the pandemic-in-waiting that keeps popping up in Asia, is H5N1. The rather nasty strain that made the rounds in the winter of 2007-2008 was H3N2, the “Hong Kong” flu. Since anyone who has had a particular strain of flu usually has at least partial immunity thereafter, and since I had caught it in the 1968 outbreak, I wasn't personally worried about getting it, and in fact I didn't.

The strain responsible for the present outbreak in Mexico is H1N1, the strain responsible for the legendary flu pandemic of 1918, “The Spanish Flu”. That one killed at least 50 million people, and possibly double that.

Now that I've scared you half to death, I'll note that H1N1 has mutated since then, and while it's one of the most common varieties of flu around, it's usually not very severe. If you've had several cases of flu in your life, chances are you've already had a case of H1N1, and so your chances of getting sick from this latest variety are decreased. There were outbreaks of this strain in the US in 1976 and 1988, killing at least two people and possibly three. It hasn't been particularly malevolent.

That follows the normal course of events with viruses and their hosts. If a host is wildly reactive to a virus and dies, then the virus dies with it. Viruses that don't kill their hosts live longer and reproduce. It's a bit like heating your house by setting fire to it. Or heating it by turning up the thermostat. Which is more cost-effective and beneficial?

But evolution is fairly random, and every so often a virus changes to something that is deadly. Nor is is hard for it to happen. In 2005 they did the genome of the H1N1 virus, and compared it with samples from the 1918 outbreak, and discovered that out of tens of thousands of genes, only 40 or so had been altered, making a difference between mass death and a nuisance that most people mistake for a rather wet cold.

The same folks who were convinced that sinister forces (“the PTK”) are out there preparing to kill us all for our own good were a bit put out by mapping the genome of H1N1. They felt that the PTK could take the information and use it to make a weaponized flu. “Weaponized” simply means they make it as contagious and deadly as possible, something that nature itself can do on a fairly routine basis.

Here's where it gets kinda goofy. Lethal strains of existing bugs aren't only credible, they are inevitable. Man-made variants are well within the realm of possibility, although we're still at the point where it would require a lot of money, expertise, and the ability to keep a lot of people silent to pull it off. So the PTK have decided to scare everyone to death with hyperinflated stories of a mass epidemic growing, and make everyone get vaccinations that magically appear. The vaccines, according to our breathless heroes, are what the PTK will use to kill off billions of people, so they can have parking space in front of the supermarket from now on. At least, that's the basic narrative laid out by the National Solutions Foundation.

At this juncture, it's impossible to tell if this new strain of H1N1 is going to be a pandemic, or just sort of fizzle into the level of an ongoing background threat like SARS or H5N1, “The Bird Flu.” The Bird Flu has been around for five years now, and if anyone tells you there's a vaccine, don't believe them. There are shots for birds and for pigs, but not humans. You see, a strain of H5N1 that transmits readily from person to person hasn't happened yet, and the vaccines they have are good only for the existing strains of H5N1, and won't work for the new variation needed for easy human contagion. What's more, it will take, at the very least, a few months to develop and test the vaccine after the strain appears and is identified, and a couple of months to mass produce.

So if H1N1 does explode in our faces, and they start talking about getting shots at your local clinic, don't bother. You don't have to believe in PTK and conspiracies of death by vaccine, and, in fact, for the state of your mental health it's probably better if you don't. But they won't have a vaccine for at least four months, longer if the medical facilities and economy are swamped by millions of desperately sick people, and any shot they give you will be a waste of time and money – and will sometimes give you a nasty case of flu you were hoping to avoid, because sometimes vaccines have the opposite effect on people. Instead, hope that pesky nose cold you had in 1978 was H1N1, and stay away from crowds, wash your hands a lot, and don't lick people who are throwing up on the sidewalk. You'd be amazed how much trouble you can avoid by not doing that, so don't do it.

But watch the situation down south closely. Hopefully, it will fizzle. But if it doesn't, the social and economic dislocations alone will be nearly as bad as the disease itself, and, immune or not, that will affect you.

Posted: April 30, 2009

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