Is it just me, or does the Swine Flu hysteria sound just a little bit like the children's story in which an entire community follows the lead of a chicken who thinks the sky is falling?
Saturday, May 2, 2009
I am by no means an infectious diseases specialist, although I do have some experience in the field as the mother of four children and a church school teacher.
However, this is what I know about Swine Flu.
It's the flu. And while the flu may be unpleasant, it doesn't kill most people who catch it.
It's a virus that is passed along from person to person just like other viruses. You can't get it by eating a bacon cheeseburger unless the person who prepared the bacon cheeseburger has the virus and sneezed on the bun.
Influenza related deaths number 36,000 in the U.S. annually. Influenza A, which is the new name for Swine Flu, has killed one person in the U.S., and that person was actually from Mexico.
Now, I'm not saying that Influenza A is something I'd like to experience in my home, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't wash our hands and use common sense preventative measures to stop its spread.
But, people. The sky is not falling. Please stop watching so much cable news which blows events and issues out of proportion and dramatizes the news just to keep people tuned in 24 hours a day.
During the course of the week, misinformation about Swine Flu caused damage to U.S. exports and a down turn in commodities markets from pork to wheat. It caused people to flood emergency rooms and delay treatment to people who really needed it because doctors were busy pacifying mothers of children with the common cold. It caused soccer moms to pass by the pork chops at the grocery store. It caused my second grade daughter to come home from school and inform me that a pig in Mexico was going to make us all sick.
Quite frankly, the speed at which the hysteria swept the nation frightens me much more than the flu itself.