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Swine Flu: Really?

April 30, 2009

I want to start off by saying that I am not necessarily an excitable person. If something that sounds huge and sweeping is announced, I am generally going to be sceptical until I can find a reason to buy in.
Recently there has been a lot on the news about swine flu and how it has killed something like 158 people in Mexico, some more people in OH and other places in the midwest where they handle pigs. I am not trying to be calouse here or anything there are real people that have died and that is sad.
However, there are a few other things that I would like to point out. All that I ask is that you read through this list then you can go back to watching Fox New tell everyone that the sky is falling and swine flu is going to be the next major global pandemic. Below are some citations about Swine Influenza from Wikipedia:

The CDC reports that the symptoms and transmission of the swine flu from human to human is much like that of seasonal flu. Common symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing, while runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.[26] It is believed to be spread between humans through coughing or sneezing of infected people and touching something with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth.[27] Swine flu cannot be spread by pork products, since the virus is not transmitted through food.[27] The swine flu in humans is most contagious during the first five days of the illness although some people, most commonly children, can remain contagious for up to ten days. Diagnosis can be made by sending a specimen, collected during the first five days, to the CDC for analysis.[28]

The swine flu is susceptible to four drugs licensed in the United States, amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir; however, for the 2009 outbreak it is recommended it be treated under medical advice only with oseltamivir and zanamivir to avoid drug resistance.[29] The vaccine for the human seasonal H1N1 flu does not protect against the swine H1N1 flu, as they are antigenically very different.

So what does all that mean? Basically if you work with pigs (aside from the office jokes you could make) and think you might have the flu, you could have a different form of the flu that actually does already have a treatment. However drugs cost money so what can you do to protect yourself from inevitible infection? Read below:

Recommendations to prevent spread of the virus among humans include using standard infection control against influenza. This includes frequent washing of hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after being out in public.[35] Vaccines against the H1N1 strain in the 2009 human outbreak are being developed and could be ready as early as June 2009.[36]

Experts agree that hand-washing can help prevent viral infections, a surprisingly effective way to prevent all sorts of diseases, including ordinary influenza and the new swine flu virus. Influenza can spread in coughs or sneezes, but an increasing body of evidence shows little particles of virus can linger on tabletops, telephones and other surfaces and be transferred via the fingers to the mouth, nose or eyes. Alcohol-based gel or foam hand sanitizers work well to destroy viruses and bacteria. Anyone with flu-like symptoms such as a sudden fever, cough or muscle aches should stay away from work or public transportation and should see a doctor to be tested.

So Dan, all I have to do is wash my hands? Yep. Pretty much.

Now that we have some information out there about how much easier it is to not get swine flue than it is to get it, let me share some death statistics. There were almost three times more vehicular fatalities in construction zones in the entire year of 2007 than have died from swine flu. Talking again about Mexico and the 158 people that died there because of swine flu, it is kind of an insignificant number compared with the 8,463 that were executed in Mexico’s drug war last year. I know that their war has gotten press time as well but I would say disproportionately. Do you see stories for the drug war 5356% more often? Or maybe you are going to say, well Mexico’s drug war doesn’t affect anyone that I know like swine flu could. You are possibly right, but if you are going to care about one statistic in Mexico you can follow a sequence of events and probably find a way that drug executions affect you.

Again, I am not sitting here trivializing the deaths of anyone I am just stating that from a standpoint of what should get covered and what is blown way out of proportion in order to sell more sensationalist stories they could have picked something with a little more clout. Bottom line: wash your hands. If you deal with pigs or poultry wash them again, problem solved. Now if only Fox News could find something worth reporting on.

What I am saying is this:

Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually — millions in pandemic years.

We do not do play by play for regular flu which is way more lethal, so get on with life and report on something worth reporting.

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