Filed under Opinion

Flu frenzy takes flight

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Imagine walking into your doctor’s office for a normal checkup. Then imagine not being able to fit inside the waiting room because of the grown men and women flooding the front desk demanding their child be seen, because according to their “professional” opinion, their child definitely has the swine flu.

In reality, their kid only has the common cold, but since there has been a whopping total of 643 confirmed cases in the United States, every single cough and sneeze needs to be examined.

The number 643 may seem like a significant and daunting number. In reality, that’s only a fraction of a percentage of the number of people who contract influenza in an average year. So why is everyone freaking out about the swine flu?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the swine flu is a hybrid, with genetic elements from swine, avian and human strains of influenza. Because this strain of the flu is new,  seasonal flu shots do not prevent against infection. In other words, it’s the same flu with the same symptoms of the normal flu – but with a newfound resilience.

The main reason this specific strain caused such a massive reaction was due to fears of a repeat of the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak,  a disastrous outbreak  that killed more than 100 million people in one year.

Think about it this way: in 1918, health care was nowhere near as advanced as it is today. In the United States, you can drive down Route 24 and pass both a hospital and a Patient First. There is a ridiculous amount of health care to find in such a small area. And, if all else fails, there’s a funeral parlor across the street.

Today, we’re prepared for anything: bumps, scrapes, serious injury and even the resulting death. Just kidding – you’re more likely going to need the latter for a car accident than the swine flu.

Thus far, only two Americans have died as a result of the swine flu, the first being a 23-month-old child in Texas who traveled to America from Mexico and the second  a 33-year-old woman from Texas who suffered a pre-existing condition before she became infected. The people who have died thus far have been people with weak immune systems, not healthy teenagers from Harford County whose parents call their doctor after one sneeze.

Basic things to know: practice good hygiene. Don’t be a den of filth. Wash your hands more than usual, don’t sneeze or cough in people’s faces, basic things like that. All of this common knowledge is “prescribed” by doctors to stay healthy all year.

So seriously everyone, sit down, calm down and put away the industrial-sized Purell bottle. If you start to feel the symptoms of the flu, make an appointment with your doctor but please, stop freaking out!

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