Scientists have discovered the H1N1 virus lacks a key amino acid found in deadlier flu strains. This means the swine flu is not lethal. That doesn’t mean no one will die, as some people already have, but widespread deaths are unlikely. Influenza can mutate easily, so it could be temporary good news. However, a vaccine like the shot Americans get every year is in production, and just like with seasonal flu, health officials will monitor any mutation.
So, the situation isn’t as bad as it seems to be, yet everyone’s panicked about it. Is the fear more virulent than the flu itself?
WHO categorizes a Level 6 pandemic as when a virus has sustained human-to-human transmission in communities in two or more countries. Well, the hype is so widespread now, I’d say we’ve reached that level. (Swine flu remains at level 5.)
What’s come out of this?
- The slaughter of 300,000+ pigs in Egypt (not Mexico) and the ban of pig product imports in several countries, even though you can’t get swine flu from eating pork
- The widespread distribution of surgical masks that don’t work (the virus is small enough to get through the holes in them)
- The shutdown of Mexico City, which means the loss of millions of dollars daily—in the middle of a global recession
- The closing of many American schools, even ones where no cases of swine flu have been found
- The cancellation of flights to Mexico
- The panic of anyone who has “flu-like symptoms” and thinks they have the swine flu when they could have something as benign as a cold
You get the idea. Meanwhile, WHO’s official death count from this flu is thirteen, 35,987 shy of the approximately 36,000 American lives lost annually to the seasonal flu!
Of course, it’s no wonder everyone’s scared when people like Dr. Richard Besser of the CDC constantly appear on TV and tell us we could be headed for a deadly outbreak. In fact, every time you turn on the news, someone’s talking about how the number of cases has risen, someone else has died, etc. Diane Sawyer even called the flu a “superbug” earlier this week on Good Morning, America, but that was a complete misnomer. By definition, superbugs are resistant to all current drugs, but two popular medicines, Tamiflu and Relenza, are effective against the swine flu (if taken within the first 48 hours). But many Americans have recovered without medicine!
We’re obviously overdoing it. This is a flu, just like the one 5% to 20% of Americans get every year. The majority of us will never catch it. And even if we dodge this disease, we could still get sick from something else! All we can do is protect ourselves like always. Proper hygiene is a must.
- Wash your hands frequently and correctly! Five seconds under water with minimal scrubbing won’t work. Scrub hard for at least twenty seconds (or the time it takes to sing the birthday song twice), then rinse with the hottest water you can stand. Hand sanitizers and wipes work, too, if you use them properly.
- Avoid touching your face during the day. The primary places germs enter your body are through your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you must touch your face, wash your hands well first.
- If someone seems sick, stay away from them.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeves to avoid spreading germs through water droplets in the air. Respiratory illnesses primarily spread this way.
- If you’re sick, DON’T GO TO WORK! Stay home and rest! Your co-workers will thank you! If your child is sick, keep them home from school.
- If you have no business in Mexico, DON’T GO THERE! There’s no official ban, but it’s just common sense. When there’s a hurricane coming, you don’t drive towards it! Going into the epicenter of this outbreak is asking to get sick.
Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to some other people’s advice (especially the man in the first video who lived through the 1976 swine flu outbreak).
There are more videos at IReport.com and, as always, on YouTube. Stay healthy (and sane)!