Sunday, April 26, 2009

Can we all please just take a deep breath through our masks?

As some of you might have gathered through careful perusal of this blog, I live in Texas. I live, in fact, not too terribly far from San Antonio, where several cases of THE MOST HORRIBLE PANDEMIC AWFUL ZOMG FLU EVER SEEN were discovered.

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.

How come?

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.


Haley Dawn said...

It Is pretty scary how uneducated people are about things like this. I think microbiology should be required for everyone as a prerequisite for living hehe.

what do they teach you is the number one prevention of the spread of disease and infection? HAND WASHING!

GingerJar said...

Yes, well since I live in an area that was visited by CDC rep's yesterday...who yes were canvassing the patient's to see if any fit the profile for the Swine Flu (and some do) and since I started a dry cough which has now developed into fever, cough, a little restricted breathing (not like my regular allegy stuff...not a drop of mucus involved.), and since I am cautious...yes I wore a mask all night at work (I started getting sick just before work but didn't start running an actual temp until Midnight), I was actually more worried about my patient's catching what-ever this is. So I will continue washing my hands, and wearing a mask. I have already been excused from work tonight.

Deanna Bland Hiott PhD, MSN, RN said...

Great blog. Y'all stay well. It's just a matter of time before this thing meanders over our way :(

Crazed Nitwit said...

I'm all about washing the hands and sneezing into the shoulder. People are freaking but I think we'll all be ok. :D

Bo... said...

Yeah, I've even heard rumors of the flu virus "being released" into the environment, a la conspiracy theories.

Penny Mitchell said...

I swear I'm not making this up: I walked into work today past three people who were in Damn Near Panic Mode talking about how we're all going to die from the flu soon.

They were all smoking.

health advocate said...

That's a horrible news. Gonna be careful this time with my health.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

There's a lot to be said for hand washing - with regular soap. You know, when I read the labels on the "hand sanitizers," I wonder what happens to the 1 percent bacteria, and presumably viruses, which are left after sanitizing?

Yr Mom

shrimplate said...

As of today, 4/29, one persona in the U.S. has unfortunately died from this flu. It was a child. My condolences go out to the family.

But, 13,000 people in this country died from "regular" flu so far this year.

Kim said...

And the one child who did die was visiting from Mexico (and that doesn't make it any less sad)...

A-freakin'-men to this post. I was going to write one similar, although I had a few more ideas, as I'm the one who is, like, totally ready for the major earthquake that will hit San Fran any minute... : )

Molly said...

I live in New York City, so you can't go five minutes without breaking news of this epigdemic.

I'm getting a bit annoyed, to say the least. Didn't we go through this with the bird flu? And SARS? Yeah, this is going to kill people. You know what else kills people? THE REGULAR FLU. I know the cytokine storm worry is what's getting to a lot of people, but I'm under the impression that that's fairly rare..?

Meh. I'll call my doctor if I get a high fever. I'll go to the ER if/when he says to. And if I die from the swinovirus, well, won't I be embarrassed.


Penny Mitchell said...

This just in: I love Molly.

"Epigdemic". Why did I not think of this?