Friday, May 01, 2009

Swine flu perspective

Swine flu. Be afraid, be very afraid. People are fearful and demanding that something be done. Government officials are clamoring to do something. Wait, that was from news reports in February of 1976.

The swine flu has been here before. It was here in 1918-19 and again in 1976. It is not new. It cannot be caught from pork food items. Yes, it can kill, but so does the more common flu. The post-WWI swine flu killed 500,000 in the U.S. (and recent evidence points to it having started here). The outbreak in 1976 killed one (however the hurriedly set-up vaccine program killed and debilitated hundreds). Our usual seasonal flu kills about 36,000 each year. We need to keep this swine flu in perspective. Don't panic, no matter how the media frenzy pushes you. Yes, even one death is too many, but unfortunately death happens and not all of them can be prevented.

Wash your hands and do the things you usually do to not catch the usual seasonal flu -- eat well, drink plenty of fluids, get rest -- all bolster your immune system.

Will we have a replay of "the Great Plague," as the 1918 pandemic was called? Not likely. Times have changed. Living conditions have improved. Sanitary conditions have improved. Underlying health status has improved. Healthcare has improved.

Be aware, but don't be swept away.

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