Lately, the whole Swine Flu pandemic has ensnared the media with some scary results. Schools are closing down, maps showing points of confirmed and possible infection are constantly flashed on screens, and generally everyone is afraid. Possibly the biggest, most visible case of fear would be in Vice President Joe Biden’s message this morning that he’d warn his family against subway or air travel. This isn’t helping, paranoia and mass frenzy do not help one bit, and the news media has never seen that in the history of their profession. There is no mistaking this is a big potential threat to the world populace, and generally letting this thing “run its course” across the world is not a good idea either. But informing the public and scaring them with media friendly versions of the truth aren’t exactly best practice either.
If anything, the big methodologies of prevention are the same we’ve always been taught as kids. Cover your coughs and sneezes, limit close contact, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick. All of this is common sense when it comes to spreading any illness, much less one like the Swine Flu. We should be vigilant, without being hyperactive; we should be measured in our response and in our containment. We should NOT be whining to the Government for federal funding and as much Tamiflu as we can get, which is exactly what Governor Rick Perry is doing with Texas right now. Yes the number of cases are on the rise, but the thing is the number of deaths in the U.S. are still in the single digits as of this writing, and both deaths reported were of young children, who are normally a high risk target for infections anyway.
Mexico, the area of the world hit hardest and with the most deaths due to Swine Flu, has been experiencing a decline in deaths thanks to Swine Flu. What did they do? They stopped all non essential public services and closed restaurants and public schools. This is also being emulated in the U.S. with several public schools closed and public gatherings in particularly infectious areas being halted. Again, common sense, but the truth of the matter is that this common sense takes its toll on the public and how we operate as a country. Mexico can afford to pull all those stops in their country, could you imagine if we tried to do that? It’d be a logistical nightmare.
It’s true that this could mutate at some point and hit us even harder, it’s true that proper surgical masks can help us limit the spread, and it’s true that we are underprepared for a full blown deadly outbreak should one occur. But we’re not there yet. So why don’t we take our time, get our heads straight, and do what we can to limit the spread, while treating those who are infected properly and getting plans together in case it does get more dangerous. We have a luxury right now: this illness, while serious, isn’t a global killer. We have to do as much research as we can, limit the spread as much as humanly possible, and instead of scaring ourselves educating ourselves.
Here is the CDC’s official page on Swine Flu, I suggest reading up and becoming as informed as you can. Practice those measures your parents taught you when you were in school, and go to the doctor IMMEDIATELY should you feel like you're coming down with a flu. However, please try to give the emergency rooms a rest...if they get too stressed, and should things hit the fan, it'll be even worse than it should be. Go only if it truly is an emergency. Other than that, I’d say watch the news and remember that it does tend to sensationalize a little bit, but it’s not to be ignored either. Don’t go survivalist just yet, the world only ends when you give it a reason to. If we stay calm and rational, we should be able to get a leg up on the situation.
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