The Swine Flu Epidemic of '09

The news on the street is all about the swine flu. I've heard radio broadcasts warning that you should stay in the country, see a doctor immediately if you have any flu like symptoms, and to basically not breathe in the air around you for fear of contracting the deadly disease. We are one step away from declaring Code Red Swine for the epidemic that is sweeping the nation.

This is also what I've heard so far on the news: about 100 people have died from the dreaded swine flu in Mexico, it is invading our country in mass numbers and at least 20 cases have been reported nationwide.

I may be adopting a head in the sand attitude toward all this, but I'm not thinking that 20 cases nationwide constitutes an epidemic by any standards. And although 100 deaths in Mexico is frightening, how many people in Mexico (or America for that fact) died with the regular flu last winter? And that was not top billing in the news, nor was it called a widespread epidemic.

I researched Swine Flu because I wanted to see what the hype was about and how deadly it really is. On the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the swine flu is generally contracted by those in direct contact with swine. (That's pigs.) And it's not even that common for it to happen. It can also be spread by direct contact with somebody that has the swine flu. In fact, there was a breakout of the dreaded disease in Wisconsin back in 1998 and not one person died. They got the flu, they got better. Just like any regular version of the flu.

Since when did having the flu become the worst thing that could happen to you? Is there no other news in the world big enough to report that we have to scare a whole nation into immobility because of impending stomach cramps and vomiting?

Go, live life, get diarrhea, and tell your grandkids that you survived the Swine Flu Epidemic of '09. They'll stare wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the story. It may be because of the new reverence they'll see you with, or because you freaked the heck out over the flu.

*Disclaimer - because it always has to happen. The flu kills, but so do colds. I have utmost sympathy for families who lose loved ones to anything so trivial and senseless. My heart especially goes out to the family of Maddie, a sweet and innocent 18 month old girl who died from complications due to a mere cold. I've been raising funds through March of Dimes to prevent such things happening in the future. If you have an extra dollar in your pocket I would appreciate the donation.


utmomof 5 said...

Speading exaggerated bad news is all the news media knows how to do. Give it a few days and they will have moved onto somthing else, like if Linday Lohan sneezed today or not.

JennyH said...

Ok- Maybe I should have read your blog first! I can see your as worried as me!! said...

Karen, that was so honest and straight forward. I wish the media handled everything the same way. Sometimes I feel like I need to watch any news on TV through a filter and only absorb a small percentage of it. They are the cause of most mass hysteria.
Thanks for being a voice of reason.

Viv said...

I spoke briefly with my mother today, who noticed that I had a cold. She immediately declared the 'swine flu' and informed me that I would probably die. She informed me that people were, "dropping dead in droves."

I did a little research, made pretty much the same observations that you have. So...if my blog is never again updated, if I never comment again, it may be said that, "she was incredulous to the very end."

Cecily R said...

If ONLY the news was written by the likes of you...this is so much better than everyone wigging out. :)

Leanne said...

I'm with you. I came up for air and did some reading on it too and thought much the same.

I also thought, Wow, if I get THAT then maybe I'll get to rest for a few days.


red pen mama said...

The media reports I have seen have been awfully matter of fact, and the people commenting on them (i.e. Janet Napolitano [sic], director of homeland security) pretty level headed. I think the concern is that it's a different strain, and spreading quickly, and the deaths in Mexico have been of 20- and 30-somethings. So they're just keeping an eye on things. :)

good post, though. As level-headed as I've seen!

See you at the walk,

Trannyhead said...

The media is completely out of control with its typical hyperventilation. This seems particularly stupid to me. Though I guess I have more reason than most to be nervous about it. But hell - I am not going to live inside for the next 7 and a half months, either.

Shellie said...

I have heard very little of the hard facts that would be interesting to know about this. The media is all over it, but governments are giving good statements. Just take care of yourself like you should anyways, we're watching it. A pandemic is just something that spreads all over the world like wildfire. The real problem is how dangerous is this flu? I have not heard one word on that. My grandfather lost his wife and two of his three children to the Spanish flu in 1913. The problem with that flu was it seriously attacked the immune system of the young and healthy. Is this strain like that? Who freakin knows? What is the ratio to how many get sick and how many get super sick and/or die? Those that die, were they young an healthy or people with compromised immune systems? These are the things I would really like to know, but even if this is the plague itself, the best thing to do is avoid crowds and use good hygiene and continue living!

Michelle said...

It's interesting to see how things have changed over the course of a few days... and yep, I'm kinda with you -- although I did keep the wee ones from going into Chicago where it's more prevalent this week. But only because the concern is when it turns to pneumonia, and we know Little Miss is susceptible to pneumonia.