by J J Cohen
Ten minutes after receiving a request from a faculty member to administer her final exam electronically to avoid gathering students into a disease spreading classroom, I received an electronic alert from the GW Powers That Be announcing that two freshmen had been diagnosed with probable "H1N1 influenza" (AKA swine flu). They were, the note declares, "treated with Relenza after exhibiting flu symptoms and were given private rooms in a residence hall for their comfort and to limit exposure to other students."
Well I am happy that their comfort was foremost, otherwise I am sure they would have been herded to a sanitized containment facility and fed hospital food by people in hazmat suits. Maybe even deportation to a Swine Flu Colony. Next step: all people with swine flu will have to wear surgical masks shaped like pig snouts to publicly mark them as contaminated and to ensure they are shunned.
I am beginning to wonder if the university will close down before I administer my own final exam on May 11. My son's middle school was swarming with local media yesterday when it was announced that an asymptomatic student had been told to remain home: his father works for the World Bank and caught H1N1 influenza while in Mexico. This same family has another student at another local school, and the mother is a teacher at a third county school. Another nearby school has been shut down indefinitely because a student there did catch the flu. Meanwhile the family of the federal agent who got H1N1 while in Mexico has to make declarations like "We've got nothing to be ashamed of ... We didn't get anyone else at school sick." Would they need to be ashamed if they had? From leprosy to AIDS to swine flu: even in 2009 a disease can carry a moral taint into the bodies it infects.