Saturday, July 18, 2009
Why is the UK a swine flu hotspot?
As the global swine flu pandemic gathers pace, one question is puzzling scientists. Why is a small country on the eastern seaboard of the north Atlantic so badly affected?
Britain is among the top half dozen global hot spots for swine flu. Along with Mexico, where the disease orginated, the US, Canada, Chile, Argentina and Australia, we are leading the way in the battle against the bug. We have more cases, and more deaths, than any other country in Europe and the pandemic is growing exponentially here, with 55,000 new cases last week, while it is subsiding elsewhere, notably in Mexico. And because we are in the front line, we are having to learn as we go.
This is not what was expected. Britain is an island nation, accustomed to the security that living within sea borders brings. But when it comes to highly pathogenic viruses, even the English channel cannot protect us.
When the pandemic emerged in Mexico last April, spreading first to the US and then ...