I think this last outbreak of swine flu, although it did have a few victims, was relatively mild compared to what a real 'sci-fi'-like break out of a deadly virus (ie. Stephen King's "The Stand") could actually be like. I think this fits into the premise of "The Manhattan Prophet" (TMP). The world is already living in a culture of paranoia. Protectionism within each country's economy is parallel with the social tendencies to separate and become distinct. This is particularly dangerous especially when the world needs to work together if there is any hope in surviving the global 'wierding' going on. (To quote Tom Friedman's book on global warming, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded".) As the major problems start presenting themselves in the near future, and as nation's try to protect themselves and their people the best they can, government's will drift into fascistic-like policies that will be endorsed by their fearful citizen's who will be desiring security and basic resources above all else. Some will do better then others and then the balkanizing tendencies will just increase. This is similar to the world I portray in TMP.
The lesson to be learned here? Can anything be done about human nature? I have to believe that only with communication and trust will we be able to pull together as a global community. The problem's mankind has created for itself makes this a necessity. The rush to alarm and the blocking of borders, like we saw with the Swine Flu outbreak, will only add to the negative consequences that are supposedly headed our way - -