Monday, April 27, 2009

Spanish Flu vs. Swine Flu

So MANY thoughts go through my head while listening to the "Swine Flu" news lately, mostly because I've been studying history so intently in the past couple years.

THIS ARTICLE speaks of how and why the Spanish Flu swept around the world, and certainly, sanitation, communication, and medical knowledge are different now. WWI and troops going abroad or coming home helped spread the virus. Here in America, there were new immigrants crowded in tenements who were deeply affected. But, they'd lived through epidemics in Europe (cholera, for one, which was raging when GGrandfather Paul was born), so perhaps it was just life to them, until they looked back on it.

I think, too about living in Minnesota, where the state epidemiologist for years was a man named Mike Olsterholm. He was frequently given air-time on MPR. The man was ridiculous about the Bird Flu--"WHEN, not IF!" His major mantra was "pandemic", while little was mentioned about how much different our world is since 1917. He always sounded like he couldn't wait for it to happen. I wonder if "Bird Flu" just didn't sound as scary as "Swine Flu" does. Are we jumping on the next bandwagon, here?

On the third hand, our society has become nuts with "germ free, anti-bacterial" products--HERE'S a typical scare commercial--and it makes me afraid that we haven't allowed our kids to build immunity to normal stuff.

A week ago today, we were endlessly hearing about the Somali pirates, and there was no mention of epidemic, pandemic or flu in the news, but suddenly, it's huge? C'mon! There are 306 million people in the USA--40 have been ill, 1 was hospitalized, and all have recovered. How does that make a 'possible pandemic'?

There's a quote about writing a novel, the gist of which is that, if you introduce a gun in the first chapters, you have to use it by the end of the book. Maybe the 'gun' here is the massive vaccine stockpile at the CDC, and the story needs a pandemic to use it.

Whew--I dunno. Maybe we really ARE sheep.

(Next day)
Isn't it possible that, BECAUSE we're looking for this disease, we're finding it? I mean, flu spreads. We all know that. And most people wouldn't go to a clinic or doctor with the flu--you just stay home.
It stands to reason that now, if you don't feel good, you WILL go in? So, Oooo, it'll show up!

What if we tracked--I dunno--a cold? Couldn't we pretty much follow how it spread, if the investigation was intense enough?
(I need a rolling-eyes icon here, or a family nurse to comment...)

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:49 PM

    I agree with much of what you say - especially the part about our kids not being allowed to develop immunities - except that that part is unavoidable by the time they're in school.
    However, we didn't know how this new strain of flu would behave IN ADVANCE. So the nation took precautions against another epidemic like 1900's. Thank God, we didn't need all that alarm, especially in this country. But in places like Mexico, if you're sick you're screwed cuz they want the bucks before they let you into the hospital. That's why so many people didn't bother going and thus died. LM

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