It’s just the flu…

… right?

In December (or perhaps earlier) of 2019, a new virus was beginning to spread throughout China. Rumor had it that it, like many other diseases, had originated in one of China’s many wet markets; specifically the one in Wuhan. Like many other viruses, it was also weak and unused to life outside its preferred host. Normally it wouldn’t have survived, but somehow it made the leap between animals and man, a process we in public health know as zoonosis.

Zoonosis for the curious is when something like bacteria, a parasite, or in the case of the Wuhan, China, a virus decides that it might like to infect humans in addition to animals. These things don’t tend to make animals sick, but can certainly cause havoc for humans on the magnitude of kindergarten class with puppies and unlimited soda.

Around the end of 2019, Chinese officials were reporting a pneumonia of an unknown cause. By the time researchers had actually identified this new disease as a virus we now know as COVID-19, it had already infected dozens of other people. We had heard rumors and rumblings, but quickly chalked these up to the type of person who lives in a basement and wears a tinfoil hat. Instead, life continued on as normal. The news was still picking up celebrities, sports, and of course it was beginning to ramp up for the 2020 election cycle. Like other international things, COVID-19 received a passing mention, as we had quickly become bored with China.

But then something changed in January, China reported it’s first death from this new virus. Upon further information, it was revealed that it was a frequent customer from the Wuhan markets with some preexisting health problems; liver disease and abdominal tumors. If we’re honest with ourselves, and I’m not talking about being honest if your phone actually died or you actually stuck with that new years resolution. I’m talking really honest here, because most of us probably thought that the man’s immune system was already compromised and the virus just happened to be what killed him. No big deal right? It happens everyday right?

Wrong. The thing is the deaths just kept coming in, and by the end of January of 2020, the World Health Organization declared China’s new virus to be a public health emergency of international concern. That’s right boys and girls, things just got real and the WHO is concerned.

While we’re all debating whether or not it’s racist to call it the “Wuhan Flu” or “Kung-Flu” let’s stop for a minute and think here. This is a new virus, and it’s making people drop like flies. I don’t care what you try to tell me, that’s not the flu.

By the end of January, China was reporting a death toll of 17 and 500+ more people infected. This is infectious on the scale of measles or ebola (if we’re going to be dramatic, and I’ll be honest… drama gets attention), and the WHO is still concerned. I can’t say for sure what sort of politics was or still is for that fact at play here, but it seems to have been our (the United State’s) first mistake in combating the virus.

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