Those of us who remember the Swine Flu PANIC of ’09 may be interested to learn from the Associated Press that “NYC schools prepare for 2nd outbreak of swine flu.” These epidemics historically come in pairs, and the second is usually worse. AP mainly notes anecdotal portents — “Sharing water bottles at school suddenly became a major transgression,” for example, and a new emphasis on repeated hand-washing. City Hall, as is its wont, counsels calm and intends to keep schools open even if the wave breaks in the fall — assuming it hasn’t mutated into a superbug.
Drug companies are rushing to create a new swine flu vaccine, and may accelerate further as some researchers warn that current vaccines may be linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Alternative remedies are being considered.
Meanwhile if you want to work out your swine flu fears online, you can play “The Great Flu,” an educational video game developed by Dutch researchers and currently available on the web…
In it, you may choose among fanciful epidemics (such as the Jailbait Virus: “First case of this virus was discovered on a farm near a big city” — is this a Farmer’s Daughter joke?) and try different means of controlling it (“distribute face masks,” “isolate symptomatic individuals,” etc) while dire music plays.
We’re no good at it — we infected thousands within minutes and received many admonitions from the game (“Stockpiling these so called wild guess vaccines offers no guarantee”). In fact it has made us afraid to go out of the house. But maybe you can do better.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 17, 2009