The upcoming weekend will be the third one within what looks like the eighth global flu pandemic that is not part of seasonal flu.
The seven previous pandemics, in the years 1899, 1917, 1937, 1948, 1957, 1968, and 1977 – were caused by various viruses. Two of them – the great pandemic that started in 1917 and the limited one in 1977 – were caused by a virus that is very similar to the one causing the current flu scare.
What we learned thus far about the current flu is that it is indeed transferred directly from one person to another, yet at a rather slow rate.
In all countries, with the exception of Mexico, the disease behaves like a normal flu, and all patients get well without requiring special treatment. Meanwhile, the first two confirmed victims of the disease in Israel suffered a mild form of flue.
All flu researchers are puzzled by the immense difference in the death rate in Mexico compared to what we have seen in all other countries. Indeed, it is possible that most cases of death in Mexico were not caused by the flu. My friend Zeev Jabotinsky, who is a pilot, hypothesized that perhaps the thin air in Mexico City, which is located 2,200 meters above sea level, causes the virus to behave more violently or prompts greater sensitivity in the respiratory system.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization raised the alert level to 5, which includes restrictions on traveling to infected areas. There is no doubt that the world was never better prepared to face any kind of pandemic than it is in this case. Moreover, at this time, the slow rate of the flu's spread leaves room for hope that the damage will not be grave.