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April 30th, 2009

Don’t Panic. Just…Er…Be Very, Very Worried…

Jonathan Golob over at SLOG has some good bullet points about the emerging Swine Flu epidemic.  I’ll try to paraphrase:

Q: But thousands of people die every year from the flu.  Why is this one any different?

A: It’s killing younger healthier people is why.  This is not your normal seasonal flu that brings down older, or already very ill people.

Q: So we’re all going to die?

A: Not unless the Plague comes out from retirement too.  Even the horrible Spanish Flu of the early 1900s only killed 2 percent of the people it infected.  But considering how infectious flu is, 2 percent if this thing really takes off is still going to be a huge number of fatalities.  Just like it was back then.

Q: So why close the schools if we’re not all going to die?

A: (I love Jonathan’s answer here so I’m going to steal it verbatim) Because kids are second only to mosquitoes as vectors for disease transmission. 

It’s not just that we love the little dears, although we do, and want to keep them out of harms way.  It just seems to be hard to get it into their little heads that they shouldn’t wipe their little runny noses with their little fingers and then pick up a toy or open a door or share a cookie…

Q: What should we do?

A: Everything you usually do to avoid catching the flu, only more of it.  Wash hands often.  Especially after coming inside, and extra especially before touching your face and eyes.  Avoid confined enclosed spaces with other people, or keep at least three feet away.  Surgical masks won’t protect you from it.  Gloves won’t do any better if you forget and rub your eyes when you have them on.  Good hygiene is the best defense. 

It’s unlikely to happen, but keep enough food and stuff at home that you can sit it out for a few days should that ever become necessary.  This is good advice in any case.  Natural disasters, power grid failures, the unexpected localized calamity, can make being outdoors, driving anywhere or getting food a problem.  Just ask the folks in Tornado Ally, any earthquake zone, or anywhere an ice storm has massively brought down power lines.  You don’t have to go all urban survivalist…just be sensibly prepared. Like this little guy…

Right now we are advising all our clients to put everything
they’ve got into canned food and shotguns…

Don’t panic.  Just stay aware and informed.

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