Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine flu

I just have to say something regarding all the panic in the news over swine flu. And that is- stop panicking! My original career was as a molecular biologist. It has always annoyed me when people used the word influenza for gastroenteritis. Huh? Well, let's put it this way- if your throwing up and have diarrhea- that is gastroenteritis. Influenza is when you have fever, muscle aches, fatigue, etc. So it always drives me nuts to here someone say they have the flu or better yet call it the stomach flu which does not exist in medical terms. So while that has always been my biggest pet peeve, lately, I have been so annoyed over all the coverage regarding the swine flu. There is no pandemic other than the pandemic of paranoia being created by the media. Yes the CDC is working to isolate the strain- which they have H1N1 and monitoring the areas where the 109 known cases have been reported. They've determined which anti-viral drugs counteract the strain.

However, for the Secretary of Homeland Security to declare a public health emergency because there are 109 cases is feeding into this hysteria. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a pandemic is defined as "occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population." 109 does not seem like an exceptionally high proportion of the population. The pandemic in 1918-1919 took the lives of 25-50 million people worldwide with approximately 625,000 in America. Because of vaccines, the most recent pandemics of 1957-1957 took the lives of 70,000 and 1967-1968 recorded 33000.

Can you see how different 109 cases differs from the above numbers of the past pandemics?

Yes we should be careful and take precautions, but let's not spread fear and panic.

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