Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bottom-line Capitalism is Fueling the Flu-Norovirus Outbreak

Norovirus closes hundreds of wards
The norovirus seen up close and personal  

“I’m lucky to have a part time job with no benefits. I take home about $250 a week. Sunday night I got the stomach virus described in this article. I could barely stand up come Monday morning, but was still considering going to work. I didn't. So this week I'm taking home about $190. Oh, and I feed and house a family of five on that. To all those that are on their high horses about people who go to work sick, I can give you my bank account number if you want to transfer some of your gratitude to me.” -  "Paul"  a NY Times commenter
In Barbados right now, many people are coming down with the aggressive H3N2 influenza strain as well as the norovirus. But it's relatively contained. Why is this? Mainly because the majority of working Bajans have 21 days sick leave granted by law- hence have time to get well - as opposed to having to go to work to ensure being paid, and then spreading whatever virus all around!

In this country, with work conditions dictated by bottom line Neolib capitalist freaks, a WalMart worker will be lucky to get one day to get over chills, fever, or projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea (from Norovirus) without being fired. Hence, s/he must show up for work come hell or high water, and as a result, spread his-her infection to any customer within range! This is outrageous and beyond reprehensible. All in the name of what ? Added profits!

It ought to be mandated in this country that every full time working manjack get a minimal two weeks sick days, and if part time- at least one week. I mean DUH! THIS is what is needed to slow the spread of viral disease such as this country is now experiencing - a three way attack from norovirus, 3 strains of flu of which H3 N2 is worst, and pertussis.

According to latest press reports, Influenza  is widespread, and causing local crises. On Wednesday, Boston’s mayor declared a public health emergency as cases flooded hospital emergency rooms.

Google’s national  flu trend maps, which track flu-related searches, are almost solid red (for “intense activity”) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly FluView maps, which track confirmed cases, are nearly solid brown (for “widespread activity”).

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston started asking visitors with even mild cold symptoms to wear masks and to avoid maternity wards. The hospital has treated 532 confirmed influenza patients this season and admitted 167, even more than it did by this date during the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 100 patients were crowded into spaces licensed for 53. Beds lined halls and pressed against vending machines. Overflow patients sat on benches in the lobby wearing surgical masks.

Nationally, deaths and hospitalizations are still below epidemic thresholds. But experts do not expect that to remain true. Pneumonia usually shows up in national statistics only a week or two after emergency rooms report surges in cases, and deaths start rising a week or two after that, said Dr. Gregory A. Poland, a vaccine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The predominant flu strain circulating is an H3N2, which typically kills more people than the H1N1 strains that usually predominate; the relatively lethal 2003-4 “Fujian flu” season was overwhelmingly H3N2.

No cases have been resistant to Tamiflu, which can ease symptoms if taken within 48 hours, and this year’s flu shot is well-matched to the H3N2 strain, the C.D.C. said. Flu shots are imperfect, especially in the elderly, whose immune systems may not be strong enough to produce enough antibodies.

Simultaneously, the country is seeing a large and early outbreak of norovirus, the “cruise ship flu” or “stomach flu,” said Dr. Aron J. Hall of the C.D.C.’s viral gastroenterology branch. It includes a new strain, which first appeared in Australia and is known as the Sydney 2012 variant.

This week, Maine’s health department said that state was seeing a large spike in cases. Cities across Canada reported norovirus outbreaks so serious that hospitals were shutting down whole wards for disinfection because patients were getting infected after moving into the rooms of those who had just recovered

And what is our capitalist bastion doing? Allowing all these diseases to spread like wildfire because of not allowing workers ample time to recover. (In the case of norovirus, even after a person recovers from the worst symptoms he can remain infectious for 3 days to a week after!) Oh, in some "generous" instances the companies will allow workers to count sick days as part of "personal" or "vacation" time. Big Deal! That's no bargain because if you're sick 7 days from norovirus (especially the aggressive Sidney 2012 strain that produces up to 14-16 explosive releases of vomit, diarrhea a day) then you're screwed on your vacation time - which is already too low!  A guy who only has 10 days total vacation time then ends up with a whoppnig 3! What's he going to do with that? Oh yeah, watch the tube! (Most other workers across the advanced globe, get 4 weeks paid vacation)

 It is time this bullshit change! It is time 'bidness' step up to the plate and do their part in this unfolding health crisis! The Neolib mutants want us to buy the meme "business is the rightful ruler of society". Well, if this is the way business operates, down with it! We need a new model, maybe based on high jen! More workers on the payroll, fewer work hours and work days - more time for personal development, edification - and 'nuff time to recover from nasty bugs!

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