So what’s up with Swine Flu these days?

Well it’s been a couple of months, time to revisit swine flu. I wrote about this early on urging people not to panic and think critically through the media hype. Now that the hype has died down, it’s apparent that the flu has not. Although this still isn’t a flu of Stephen King proportions, it is highly infectious and can get a lot of us at once. I urge you to read this personal account to help put this flu in perspective.

This flu has continued to spread, however experts are saying the infection rate in the Northern Hemisphere may have peaked for the time being. However, there’s no guarantee that there won’t be a resurgence (as it’s flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, so the virus can continue to spread). By that time, though, we will have a vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could mutate before the vaccine is developed and distributed. If the flu mutates like the 1918 flu, this could be very bad. But there’s no reason to think that this will necessarily happen. It is a different flu and could behave very differently. Reminder: do not read the word “pandemic” as “apocalypse” — distribution, not severity.

Cases are mostly mild but there are some groups that are at higher risk: pregnant, children, people with underlying conditions, and elderly. The typical groups. People in these groups who worry they are at risk should visit their doctor, not an infection-filled ER. This will only put them at even greater risk. Also, even if you aren’t one of these people, you can spread it to them by not washing your damn hands.

The symptoms are a bit different than regular flu. For example, there is a higher incidence of nausea and vomiting with the Swine Flu. Best thing is to stay home unless symptoms get too severe to deal with without medical attention.

Social issues are creating disease hubs. The advice is: wash hands, stay home when sick, keep sick kids out of school, etc. But some of these are easier said than done because of our crappy time-off and daycare systems. So if this flu has affected you and you’ve had to endure one or more hardships in order to prevent the spread of infection, or have felt it impossible to do what you can to prevent the spread of infection, write to your local government. Maybe cough on the letter a few times. They’ll do something if one of them gets it. Just kidding, that’s probably a bad idea. But write them. Tell them about the hardships you’ve endured (unable to take time off to care for self or family, etc). We shouldn’t have to face the choice of spreading illness or getting fired.

Although it’s bad to panic, and I still don’t think we should, people don’t seem to be taking swine flu seriously enough anymore. People en masse seem to have 2 settings with events like this: Panic and apathy. We need a happy medium. Panic is not productive but apathy is dangerous. Please do everything you can to prevent the spread of infection. There have been over 2000 laboratoty-confrmed cases of Swine Flu in Canada and 3 deaths. So while panic is out of order, apathy is unjustified. Wake up and take precautions.

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One response to “So what’s up with Swine Flu these days?

  1. The World Health Organization has warned that the world is on the verge of an official swine flu pandemic, saying it is working to prepare countries for raising its alarm to the highest level.

    ”We are getting very, very close,” said Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general, noting that in Australia, there is ”a great deal of activity in Victoria at the community level.”

    Under the WHO’s guidelines, one key criteria for declaring a pandemic is established community spread in a country outside the first region in which the disease was initially reported, in this case, outside the Americas.

    The WHO has left its six-level pandemic alert scale unchanged at phase five, signalling that a pandemic is ”imminent.”

    The UN health agency’s guidelines had initially focused on the geographical criteria to justify a phase change. However, member states have called on the agency to take other elements, such as severity of the disease into account.

    Fukuda played down the role of severity, saying that “by going to phase six, what this would mean is that the spread of the virus continues and activity has become established in at least two regions in the world.

    ”It doesn’t mean that the severity of the situation has increased,” he said.

    Australia’s swine flu outbreak hit sports events yesterday as a national swimming competition was axed and rugby league’s first case put fixtures in doubt.

    But when asked if the situation in Australia, where 1,211 cases of infections have been recorded, warranted a phase change, Fukuda would only say that the world is ”getting very, very close” to a pandemic.
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