Friday, May 1, 2009

Flu: you're soaking in it (but you probably shouldn't worry)

Like most folks, you're probably wondering what to make of the swine flu headlines: Deaths, schools closures, travel warnings ... it's "Last Man on Earth," isn't it? And maybe you get to be Vincent Price. (Or perhaps you'd prefer Will Smith?)

Well, probably not.

First, a little worrying news. You know those amazingly sparse "confirmed cases" figures? They're garbage. It takes 3-7 days to get results back from swine flu, so if the whole country had been tested on Wednesday, we still wouldn't know how prevalent it was.

But to test, you'd need proper test media for taking and transmitting samples. And that's in short supply. As of yesterday, our local hospital had none. That was a problem, since the night before they admitted a child who tested positive for Influenza A and showed all the warning signs of swine flu. My wife, a pediatrician, brought over one of the 15 kits in her office -- possibly the only media in the Verde Valley -- to take a sample that will either confirm or deny what the doctors suspect. After 3-7 days, that is.

In the meantime, my wife has been seeing 50 patients each day. That's a record for her. Her colleagues are also swamped. The kids coming in are all ...

Well, you know where this is going. Just assume that this bug is already widespread.

Now, the good news.

The swine flu, so far, looks like ... flu. That's not to say you want to catch it, but it doesn't appear to be anything like the killer bug that people have been fretting about. Chances are that if you catch it, you'll have a few lousy days. Then you'll get better.

That's it. No doomsday, no bodies stacked in the streets.

My biggest concern is that the timing sucks for me. My family is off tomorrow with friends on a cruise that was supposed to be along the Mexican Riviera. Because of the flu, Mexican ports are now off-limits, so instead, we'll sail along California's coast, where the bug is known to already have taken up residence.

But the CDC can't issue travel warnings against American ports, so there you go.

I could be wrong, of course. If so, I'll step off my cruise ship in a week to take up my rightful role as master of the smoking ruins.

Be not afraid. I'll be a reasonable barbarian warlord, taking my tribute in bourbon and good dope.

But I expect that, instead, I'll come back to find that everybody has the sniffles and the runs.

Just wash your hands, would you?



Blogger Fred said...

I'll have to say that every time some new flu bug comes out my hair stands on end if only because the wife is one of those vulnerable types with a weakened immune systems resulting from a bone marrow transplant.

I mentioned on my blog if maybe I was overly concerned and this was mostly just hype. Right now it does look like this latest flu is just a flash in the pan and isn't all that big of a deal.

I don't have a problem with the powers- that- be making an issue of it. One of these days we might well find ourselves in a serious flu pandemic.

As far as traveling, back when this flu first came out, on of my wife's friends said she had a vacation in Mexico planned for next week and wasn't changing her plans. I still feel that was negligent, if not criminally negligent, behavior. She should at least hold off and see what becomes of this thing.

Looks like it's blowing over now, but, if it were me, I think I'd wait until this thing pretty much blows over before I went to Mexico. Then again, despite having lived in Mexico as a kid, I think I'd avoid Mexico entirely nowadays. Too much violence.

May 2, 2009 6:59 AM  
Anonymous Darren Wolfe said...

I was going to catch up with my wife at a business conference she would have attended in Cancun. Now that it's been postponed we're out the almost $300 that we paid for my plane ticket. US Airways sucks!

OK, enough venting, the situation is serious, people have died. My problem is with governments taking charge of it. Guaranteed they'll just bungle the whole thing making it worse & costing people their livelihoods, especially in Mexico.

May 3, 2009 3:51 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

"...the situation is serious, people have died.".

Except it doesn't seem, at this point, that any more have died than from regular old, standard flu that kills thousands every year around the world.

May 3, 2009 7:10 AM  
Blogger braney said...

I think maybe the best course would be to get the swine flu now when it is at its weakest and there are drugs and ventilators available. The Spanish Flu (damned free press) apparently had an initial phase of low virulence followed by a much more virulent phase the following winter. Get your immunity now!

May 3, 2009 11:30 AM  
Anonymous MacK said...

Fred are you in political power?

"my wife's friends said she had a vacation in Mexico planned for next week and wasn't changing her plans. I still feel that was negligent, if not criminally negligent, behavior."

Many of us consider government intrusion into our personal affairs obscene. Now you consider people who want a vacation to be criminals? Sure she may get the flu, but if she was to go to Egypt she might get the West Nile virus, so I guess that should be criminal also.

May 4, 2009 6:19 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Good point. I'm just saying people shouldn't be careless when there's possibility of a serious illness being spread. She should wait and see how this thing develops. It wouldn't hurt to wait a week or two.

I'm in Northern California. We haven't had any swine flu in our county yet, but a few cases have been found a couple counties south. So, my wife's friend wants to go to Mexico, anyway, with her carefree attitude.

What if this turned out to be a serious issue and she brings back the flu and gives our county its first dose of it? Sure, it might happen anyway, but her cavalier attitude of no regard for other people I find very, very negligent.

Wonder how she'd feel if she ended up transmitting this flu to my wife and she ended up dying?

But, you're right. She should be free to travel wherever and whenever she wants regardless of the circumstances.

May 4, 2009 7:18 AM  
Blogger Lovepirate said...

This post has been removed by the author.

May 9, 2009 9:39 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home