Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Swine-Avian Flu

A recent title in the BBC News assures us that "Flu risk 'still low' after death."

At least the dead get some peace. *

But for the rest of us, Swine Flu remains a true threat. It was just officially declared a "pandemic" by the World Health Organization and there's no end in sight.

The CDC declares "WHO’s decision to raise the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus." However, little is known about this flu, and no one has immunity to it since it's never cropped up before.

"Swine Flu" is really a misnomer and should be called Swine-Avian Flu, due to the fact that it shouldn't be confused with former swine flus. This one is a true mix, which makes it particularly nasty, apparently.

As a chronic asthmatic, I am very concerned. Right now, those of us with lung disease are cautioned to avoid large crowds and take the necessary precautions. But when you're in business, this is almost impossible. What am I supposed to do: Walk around with a face mask all day?

And what's a large crowd? A football game? A cocktail party?

I know that I'm one of the ones that could truly die due to this, but I feel hamstrung. Until it is recognized by everyone as a true threat, I am going to look like a paranoid freak if I respond in the way that they're recommending.

*Yes, yes, I know: The title does not accurately reflect the article's contents. Please don't pester me about that.


Ed Abbey said...

The only thing a face mask can do is prevent you from spreading it to other people with a sneeze. A face mask will not prevent you from getting it.

I think with summer upon us, this version of the flu will die out for the year and by next year, it will be included in the vaccine and not an issue assuming they can produce it in sufficient quantities. Yet another reminder at how truly global our lives are these days.

Scott said...

Just try to keep in mind that this flu is no more contagious or dangerous than the flu that gets spread each and every flu season. Yes it is a pandemic, but the numbers are in no way staggering.

daveawayfromhome said...

If a facemask will keep it in, it will keep it out.

And, really, even if there is a flu breakout, even if it reaches 1918 levels, odds are pretty much in your favor. Actually, funny thing, in the 1918 epidemic, it was often the healthiest people who succumbed.
Also, people die from regular flu also, though the numbers are debatable.

As usual, the best answer is to go about your business the same as always, with a few simple precautions. Driving is far more dangerous.

Ed Abbey said...

Daveawayfromhome - Do your research. The H1N1 virus is much smaller (0.1 micron) than the holes in a facemask (0.3 for an N95 SURGICAL grade mask). Hence is can get in or out. How the facemask prevents you from spreading it (as easily) is that it prevents a passerby from getting a direct hit from your bodily fluids.

The Lazy Iguana said...

A mask is going to stop a virus about as well as a lovely bouquet of flowers held up to your face averted the black plague.

The cheap Home Depot mask you wear when working with drywall has holes in it that would look to a virus like a hole the size of a mountain would look to you.

The theory in the 1918 flu killing mostly healthy people was that it sent the immune system into hyperdrive. Your own immune system attacks your own organs - thinking them to be invading cells. People with weaker immune systems actually fared better.

Today there are anti-rejection drugs transplant patients take that put a leash on the immune system - that is supposed to help.

but who knows.