Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dear God, here we go again.

The damn pig is back. 

Swine flu just won't go away...its like bacon repeating itself all day after a hearty breakfast.  USA Today ran a story quoting a report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology predicting "30,000 to 90,000 deaths", mostly among the young, in addition to our usual 40,000 a year from the run-of-the-mill flu.  The report goes on to report critical overcrowding of intensive care units and emergency departments.  If that didn't cause the masses to run in circles screaming and wildly flailing their arms the revelation that the vaccine probably won't be ready in time should do the trick. 

While the above is a bit tongue-in-cheek, the reality of this past spring's "flu rush" paints a sobering picture.  Emergency rooms all over our community were well beyond capacity.  Resources were stretched thin.  Local pharmacies ran out of Tamiflu, especially pediatric doses.  The pieces of a disastrous puzzle were all in place; thankfully, by the grace of God, there were very, very few seriously ill.  Most symptoms were annoying at worst.  Nonetheless, it grew so quickly it took us by surprise.

The report from the President's Council predicts 50% of all Americans may be infected with H1N1 this fall.  That is a sobering number. With that in mind, the time has come, once again, to re-iterate the best ways we, as individuals and families, can protect ourselves and those we love.

First and foremost, please wash your hands.  It so doggone simple, yet stand in a restaurant washroom anywhere and see what percentage of folks actually wash their hands after using the toilet; it's staggering.  Just do it.  Make your kids do it.  It saves lives.

Second, if you are sick, STAY HOME.  For the love of Pete, we don't want to get sick.  The world won't end if you take time off.  It could for any one of us if you don't.

Third, unless you are very ill, stay out of the ER.  That is where all the people with H1N1 will be.  If you didn't have it when you arrived, you will by the time you leave.  The spring rush brought many desiring "just to be checked" because they were exposed to someone who was infected.  Not smart.  Not only won't we check you if you have no symptoms, but we'll make you sit in the waiting room for hours while we treat the ill.  Oh, and by the way, the waiting room will be full of those with the flu. 

Fourth, please don't send sick kids to school.  Take FMLA.  Call in sick.  Use your PTO.  Whatever you have to do, keep sick kids home.  Fifty years ago family dynamics were such that this would not have been an issue; today stay-at-home moms are few and far between.  This difference could be critical component in the spread of this disease.  Teachers all over the country can testify to the sick kids sent to school every day.  This fall, keep them home. 

Fifth, and finally, if you or your children are seriously ill, by all means, go to your doctor or emergency room.

My advice is not exhaustive: quitting smoking, exercising, and eating a balanced diet all will contribute to a healthy immune system.   The CDC has a great site for more information and prevention ideas - check it out.  Hopefully, early in 2010 I will revisit this topic and report that predictions were overblown and out of proportion.  Let's all pray.


  1. Yeah, gotta be honest, I'm starting to get concerned. I never get a flu shot ... BUT I've got a toddler with DS who is subject to chronic respiritory infefctions. He goes to special ed preschool and he always has his fingers in his mouth. If I can find the vaccine I may be sure he gets it. Me, I'm washing my hands like I've got OCD.

  2. He definitely needs the vaccine when it arrives. And in this case, OCD is a definite plus when it comes to washing hands.

  3. Gosh, didn't realize it was that serious in the US!
    Here in Italy they were thinking of not opening the schools this month but then decided on distribution of free vaccines to the very young and the old ...

  4. I'm so sorry, David... you've been tagged at my blog. You're supposed to thank me, I think...


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