Monday, August 29, 2022

Plague Update 58# - Just When You Thought it was Safe to Breathe on Your Neighbour Edition

 I  must admit I thought that my previous plague update would be my last one.  It did really look like we had a handle on things.  Vaccines had been sourced and distributed to the non-deranged section of the population which turned out to be surprisingly large (and even more surprisingly included me).  Governments fell over themselves to assure the population that there wouldn't be anymore lockdowns no matter how many people died.  There were even a couple of outbreaks at aged care facilities (a term that may need to be adjusted for the sake of accuracy) to confirm that fundamentally we have learnt nothing from the events of the past few years except perhaps how to dispose of the unwanted elderly without having to introduce euthanasia laws.  Even migrants went from being unwanted plague rats to suddenly being desperately needed to keep the economy running.  The alternatives (paying decent wages and instituting a vocational education system that actually works) being too ridiculous for contemplation.

Yes all was going well.  Then monkey pox turned up and as if that wasn't enough foot and mouth disease didn't actually turn up but it did move in next door.  Money pox is the latest thing to come out of Africa a continent currently dealing with the embarrassing fact that one unfortunate meal choice in Wuhan has managed to kill more people than all the ebola Africa has ever produced.  Still it doesn't look like monkey pox will regain them the crown of disease capital of the world.  

The papers (or at least the ones I read) are talking up the dangers of widespread monkey pox infection while being forced to admit that so far there have only been a handful of cases in the country.  Which doesn't mean there wont be a full scale outbreak tomorrow.  People worried about the above can take comfort from the fact that our government has responded to monkey pox in the same way it responded to covid.  That is it overlooked the situation until it was too late and has not stockpiled (or even approved) the necessary vaccine.  The vaccine it has approved has the possibility of unfortunate side effects (death being one of them) among the immuno-compromised and pregnant communities.  So let's hope the monkey pox keeps a low profile.

By comparison it has to be said that the reaction to foot and mouth in Indonesia was much more robust.  Various "bio-security" measures up to and including flooding Torres Strait with oil and setting it on fire were canvassed before we decided to just ask people who travel to Indonesia to avoid visiting farms on their return.  So far the Indonesians seem to have kept the outbreak within their borders.  This is good news for us although slightly less good news for Indonesian farmers who would probably prefer it if foot and mouth emigrated for good.

Meanwhile covid continues to infect people all over the country but you can't really find the hospitalisation and mortality figures unless you really try and apparently most of us don't.  I wonder how covid and monkey pox are feeling right now.  We are dealing with outbreaks by simply ignoring them meanwhile the mere sight of foot and mouth dropping in on a neighbour reduced us to panic stricken hysterics.  The key seems to be that both covid and monkey pox affect people (although the name would imply that monkey pox isn't great for monkeys either) whereas foot and mouth affects cattle.

You may find it a little surprising that a disease that affects cattle is treated a great deal more seriously than a disease that affects humans but there are very good reasons.  Firstly with seven billion plus hanging around the planet its not like humans are going to be declared an endangered species any time soon.  Secondly, unlike cattle you cannot eat people* so one consequence of foot and mouth is that vegans get incredibly smug and I think we can agree that those are not the sort of people we want to encourage.

On a personal note the most impact all these various diseases have had on me is to make my job difficult as various colleagues insist on getting sick.  I would complain about that but every time I try they point out that I recently took a six week holiday masquerading as cancer recovery which everybody agreed was selfish and inconsiderate in the extreme.

*Ok technically you can eat people but you should see the trouble I get into whenever I try

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