Reporting on Swine Flu Direct from Mexico
by Margo Jodyne Dills, PVNN
April 27, 2009 – On CNN you can find videos telling you how to avoid swine flu. Amateur productions, available for all to view, give advice on what precautions to take. One seemingly wise lady demonstrates the use of antibacterial hand gel in great detail. She explains how her husband and she have instructed their children in the correct way to wash the entire hand, including the fingertips. They state that their kids should be fine in their southern Californian school, using those safety measures.
In many areas of Mexico, that idea has been taken a step further: schools are closed. So are restaurants, nightclubs, bars and other public venues, including churches. This is occurring even in cities where there have been no cases of swine flu reported. Let’s not panic, shall we?
The death statistic for Mexico City varies according to which news agency you rely on. Many cases have been the result of poverty stricken people neglecting to seek medical treatment for illness until their condition is grave.
There are no reported cases in the very large state where I live, Jalisco. Our capital is Guadalajara, the second largest city in the country.
Is this tough on the economy? You bet it is. All the way up and down the food chain.
Lately Mexico’s had to battle the idea that tourists may be kidnapped, robbed, shot and further mutilated. Now you’ll just plain drop dead if you come here.
Conspiracy theories abound, of course, including a claim that an old business of Donald Rumsfeld has created the panic so they can unload over 50 million doses of a medication that sits on the shelf of an abandoned pharmaceutical company. Another is blaming “the cartel” getting back at the USA and Mexico for their dual attacks. These ideas are nonsense, as we well know, but they give theorists something to do with down time.
My daughter in Seattle panicked this morning. Shortly after arriving to work (a dental assistant in a busy clinic), she texted me with strong encouragement to get out of Mexico and come quickly to Seattle. I’m confirmed in my belief that I am better off staying put, avoiding airplanes with re-circulating air, airports with sneezing tourists and grimy public bathrooms. I’m quite happy with the beach down the road and I’m not quite ready for the culture shock of being up north.
Cultural differences have a huge effect on how a crisis like this is received. In Mexico, people are more willing to stay home once they have been told classes, appointments and work have been canceled. The office is closed. Play dominoes, talk to your neighbors, water the garden (or the sidewalk,) tinker with the car, dye your hair, take a nap. In the United States, when the office is closed, people go shopping, with a cell phone plastered to the palm of their hand.
The precautions in Mexico are prudent and if they keep people from falling ill, that’s the whole point of the exercise, isn’t it? It’s the old cow/barn theory. Once out, she’s difficult to round up and get back in. Lock her up, make sure she stays put and it lessens the work load considerably.
In the case that you are heading to ANY foreign country at this time, I suggest the use of common sense. Don’t cancel your vacation, business trip or family visit. But do what the doctors recommend: take your vitamins, double your fluid intake, wash your hands after any activity that could cause any kind of exposure, eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, keep your hands off of your face, out of your mouth.
Things will die down in a remarkably short amount of time, I suspect. Next week there will be something even more sensational to widen our eyes.
Then there’s the fellow who returned last week from Mexico City to his home in Holland. Having flu-like symptoms, he called his doctor and the Public Health authorities but was told to not worry. He had returned to the Netherlands BEFORE any reports of the swine flu had been RECEIVED by the Dutch Public Health Service. Therefore he was in no danger. Maybe you should just go to Amsterdam.
Margo Jodyne “Jodi” Dills moved to Puerto Vallarta from Seattle in 1999, living first in Mismaloya where she owned a guest villa, then in the Zona Romantica where she owns Lavanderia Pulpito. She gained her writing knowledge from classes in writing, publishing and editing at various colleges in Washington and from participating in writers groups and conferences. Visit her website MargoJodyneDills.com