Monday, October 5, 2009

Swine Flu?

I had a lot of sick kids last week. Most of them were daycare kids, and weren't at daycare. All week. The one daycare child I did get to see is in a class of what is usually about 12 kids. There were two there.

This spring, with all the hype about swine flu, I wasn't alarmed in the least. It's just a flu, I thought. People die from the flu every year. Maybe it's a little strong. It's nothing to get all upset about. Schools are closing?? Seriously??

But now... now the opposite is happening. Now it's the media telling us, everything's fine, it's no big deal, sure it's going around but it's just like any other flu, yes a few people are dying but they have other underlying issues, don't worry, you'll be fine, just treat it like the flu. No, schools don't need to close, this isn't anything to panic about.

Oh, really? Because three people in the community have died in a week, and all of them young, healthy people. The media continues to lie, blaming it on "underlying issues", when in fact, the people who know these individuals say they were the picture of health and the minor underlying issues the news scraped together is things like high blood pressure which had absolutely nothing to do with their death from the flu. The third one, a strong healthy teenager, dead just three days after he started getting sick, had no underlying issues. An interview with the parents the other day has them saying exactly that - their child was in perfect health, he had no health concerns whatsoever. And the news stories today? "The family has asked for privacy and therefore we are unable to learn what underlying conditions this child may have had which contributed to his death." What a lie!

I have to get a routine physical -- what a wonderful time to do that. I didn't think much about it at first, and then it dawned on me that I was going to have to go into a clinic full of people with the swine flu. For although the media states that, "Oh, a few dozen cases of mixed flus which probably aren't even all swine flu are being reported weekly," the absence rate and the facebook statuses of people in the area naming all the people in their families who are sick tells otherwise.

And when I walked into that clinic, the "few dozen cases" for this week? They were all in there. At the same time. In one of many clinics in the area. Multiply the dozens of sick people in that one clinic at that one five-minute period by the hours in the day and the clinics in the area -- and we've got hundreds sick, just today. Count in the people who already went to a clinic yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that and are still sick, and the people who are just starting to feel bad and will be going in tomorrow or the next day, and the people who hate doctors and don't care if they're sick, they're not going to the doctor, and I bet we have thousands ill in this city alone.

That many people sick, with a virus that kills healthy people, is frightening.

It became even more frightening when I did some research and learned that it's actually those with a healthy immune system that are most at risk for dying. Look up cytokine storm, folks. That is exactly what happened to these three healthy people -- their lungs filled with fluid, they went to the hospital as soon as they got sick, and they couldn't be saved.

As someone with a great immune system, who never worries about colds and flus and other illnesses because I almost never get them, and when I do, my immune system boosters keep it pretty mild... cytokine storm is a pretty scary thing.

So while I'm typically not an alarmist -- I'm about to become one.

Because this stuff? This stuff is lethal.

I didn't get my physical. It will have to wait. I'm not going to get sick while proving I'm healthy.

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