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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Pandalerium!!

OK, not yet. But the news is certainly a-flutter with swine flu pandemic predictions. Here's a few of the current headlines:

  • MSNBC - "Hundreds of Kids May Have the Swine Flu"
  • CNN - "Federal OfficialsHold Briefing on Swine Flu Outbreak"
  • FOX News - "Homeland Security Dept. Briefing on Swine Flu" & "LA Officials Probe Two Possible Swine Flu Deaths" & "Mexico Slammed for Slow Response"
Some interesting information to help put this outbreak into perspective:

  • Across the entire Mexican nation, there are over 109 million people. Of those millions, 1600 people think they could have the virus. The number of deaths Mexican officials suspect were caused by swine flu are 149.
  • Every year in America (population 303.8 million), more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from (regular) flu-related complications and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes. At this time, 64 cases of Swine Flu were confirmed in the US in NYC, California, Kansas, Ohio and Texas.
If you listen carefully, behind the media hype, doctors and officials are saying that this is not cause for alarm. They agree people can fairly easily prevent contracting this disease... by practicing good hygiene and using common sense. (of course, I do realize that common sense is by no means common...). Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, stay away from sick people. If you are sick - STAY HOME! If you have flu-like symptoms (high fever, cough, runny nose, body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea) contact your doctor.

And you don't have to take my word for it... the Center for Disease Control says the same thing.

The word "pandemic" does sound pretty threatening. As I was listening to the latest news while getting ready for work this morning, I wondered what a pandemic really was. Google told me that a pandemic is a widespread outbreak. Not very helpful. But it turns out that "pandemic" phases are kind of subjective. This is a good link to a chart showing the WHO pandemic phases:

Lots of information out there. Lots of media hype. Bottom line... don't make this out to be more than it is.

And don't forget to wash your hands.


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    1 comment:

    1. Since I live in Texas and there have been confirmed cases in my city one might think I am freaking out, but I'm not. You are right, if people practice good hygiene and see a doctor if symptoms start appearing than they should be fine. Trust me, my mother-in-law is an Infectious Disease Manager at a hospital near me, and she said you really only need to be concerened if you have a sensitive immune system. She was way more worried about the bird flu!