And yet, I am not locking myself in my house and refusing to go out. (Well, actually, I am, but that's for reasons totally unrelated to swine flu. It's more like that's my normal routine.) I am not panicking or avoiding large public spaces like the grocery store. I am not dousing myself in bleach or drinking whole pots of green tea. I am not stocking up on ammo or bottled water. I am, in short, while not sanguine, not freaking out.
Because epidemics *happen*. Once one gets started--and there's ample evidence that this particular flu bug has been moving around both Mexico and the U.S. all season, quietly infecting people--there's not a whole lot you can do besides quarantining the infected and washing your hands. Even before one gets started, there's not much you can do to stay away from viruses on a daily basis besides avoiding sick people and washing your hands.
Given that I can't exactly avoid sick people unless I want to move into a cardboard box, I'm washing my hands. I'm brushing up on the management of cytokine storm (for you non-medical types out there, that's an immune reaction that goes overboard and overloads your organs and kills you) and reviewing what I know about things like respiratory and droplet isolation. I'm gonna put an extra set of scrubs in the car today, since it's likely that at some point, if this dadratted bug continues to spread, I'll be killin' time at the hospital rather than at home.
I'm more worried about the level of ignorance in the general public about viral infections and the transmission of the flu than I am about the flu itself. I'm seeing comments on public message boards from people who want to stock up on antibiotics or just start taking Tamiflu as a preventive measure (neither will work). I'm seeing evidence that most people don't really understand the difference between viruses and bacteria and how their infections differ. I'm hearing talk from people here Deep In The Heart about moving off to Wisconsin and building a hideout.
If there's going to be fallout from this bug, it'll be because people are kinda dumb, not because they fall over dead.
Unless the Gubmint reports that this particular strain of swine flu turns people into zombies, I will continue simply to wash my hands and cover my mouth when I sneeze. I ask you all to please do the same.
And maybe next time there's a scary epidemic, it can happen *during* the Nationally Recognized Music Festival, so NRMF will get closed down and I can finally find some parking near the bar. That would be nice.