Swine Flu: everyone is talking about it, even those that don’t have a clue what they are talking about. Although I am no CDC expert, I did take enough microbiology classes in college to understand the basics of what’s going on. Plus, I have a brain, which, apparently, some people are lacking. So I’m going to give my two-cent synopsis and solution to this whole piggy mess. Not because there isn’t a plethora of information out there, but mostly because I like to hear myself talk, or type rather.
Influenza (A.K.A. flu) is a respiratory infection. Swine Flu is caused by an influenza virus that is typically only transferred from pig to pig. Occasionally you’ll have a freak strain that somehow passes from pigs to people in close proximity to the pigs, but even if a person catches this flu from his porcine friends, he usually can’t pass it on to other people. However, the particular virus strain that is causing all this hoo-ha has figured out a way to pass itself from person to person. That’s what makes it so special, and scary.
Now, before any of you barricade yourselves inside your houses and start sporting layers of facemasks, let’s gain a little perspective. Although the swine flu has proved fatal for some unfortunate victims, did you know that the regular boring seasonal flu that comes around every winter kills over 3,000 people in the U.S. and about 300,000 people worldwide each year? And the Swine Flu has killed what, like 20? Yet you don’t see any school districts closing down during flu season. Hmmm…makes you wonder.
So why all the fear and panic? Swine Flu, I mean Influenza H1N1 for the benefit of the pork producers out there, is the new pandemic hotness! It’s new, it’s sensational, it’s exotic, and it represents uncertainty. People will always fear the unknown.
It’s pretty much the West Nile Virus scenario all over again. What? You don’t even remember what the West Nile Virus is? That’s because West Nile is a has-been virus. Oh, it’s still out there killing people. Last year it killed 44 people in the U.S. and the year before it caused the deceasement (Yes, I just made up that word. Do you like it?) of over a hundred Americans. Although West Nile is still up to its usual tricks of inflaming brains and spinal cords, no one seems to be interested in it anymore. Poor West Nile! It’s like one of those boy bands that are famous for about half a second and have hordes of thirteen year old girls drooling all over them but then quickly become all but forgotten until VH1 features them on a Where are They Now? special. Yup, West Nile is pretty much the NSYNC of viruses.
Okay, so now that we have established that Swine Flu is serious, but no more so than the standard run-of-the-mill flu, and will probably not hold our extremely limited attention span for long, we can all take a deep breath. Ahhh!!! Doesn’t that feel better?
If panicking isn’t the most reasonable and helpful thing to do in light of this recent outbreak, what should we be doing?
It’s very simple, and it’s the same thing that you should be doing even when there isn’t a deadly mutant virus on the loose: wash your hands regularly! The flu is often spread by people touching their mouth, eyes, or nose after contacting something contaminated with the virus; that “something” could be a hand, a doorknob…whatever.
By the way, you people that “wash your hands” by just running your hands briefly under the tap, and you know who you are, you don’t kill, or wash off, anything by doing that. Nothing! In order to actually remove microbes you need to scrub your hands for at least twenty seconds with both soap and water. Sud those babies up! And “regularly” washing hands doesn’t mean every third day, or even every other day. It means after using the bathroom, before eating, before preparing food, after petting animals, after shaking someone’s hand…etc., etc., etc.
So there you have it, my simple solution. The CDC must have stolen my simple solution idea because they have that whole washing your hands thing on their website too. Go figure.
Incidentally, eating properly cooked pork is NOT going to give you the Swine Flu…duh Egypt. I wonder if all of their scientists bought their degrees online.
So wash your hands people! Eat your hot dogs! And wear mosquito repellant-the West Nile Virus would like a little attention now and then.
*At least 50% of the information in this post is guaranteed to be 100% accurate.