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Swine Flu — Epidemic or Paranoia?

Mask Swine Flu…it is the number one leading news story everywhere you turn. It has preoccupied the nightly news shows and the Internet headlines.  Even before the WHO (World Health Organization) raised the alert today to a Phase Five – the second-highest rating there is (meaning it believes a global outbreak of the disease is imminent), we had gotten 2 emails from our School District Superintendent, one directly from my son’s principal, and another from my daughter’s preschool director.  Thus far, 100 schools across the USA have closed because of it.  The State of Texas (where the first death in the US from Swine Flu has been recorded) just suspended ALL its high school sports because of it.  So, I’m curious…how wrapped up in this are YOU??

To be honest, the economic woes we are facing as a country concerns me much more than this outbreak or flu epidemic.  Am I crazy?  Is this Zen Mama Wannabe out to lunch?  I know, you don’t die from a massive recession (unless you jump out of a window like a few financial planners sadly have done).  But when GM closes it plants, it affects a lot of people – from the actual factory workers, to the men and women who made the bolts and the screws that got sent to the factories, to the drivers who delivered them, to the restaurant workers who fed them, etc.  The Swine Flu outbreak has the potential to affect millions too – but not quite in the same way.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says the number one way to limit your risk for contracting Swine Flu is to practice good hygiene.  Wash your hands.  Those 3 words we remind our kids about throughout the day, every day, as it is.  Something we all should be doing anyway – but maybe now even more so.  Wash when you walk in the door, wash before eating, wash before moving on to another activity – wash, wash, wash.

The CDC also recommends not going into public places if you are sick.  Sick people belong at home, naturally, although this rarely happens.  Spend any length of time in a classroom and you will hear all the sniffles, coughs and sneezes.  Swine Flu or no Swine Flu, working parents cannot afford to miss work to stay home with their kids (or themselves for that matter).  Especially these days, when so many people are barely hanging on financially as it is.

But what of all these warnings and news stories?  Good to have the information – good to know what the symptoms of Swine Flu are.  But are we helping to create panic or spread a (media) epidemic all on our own?

Then I wondered, what would I do if I found out a child in my son’s class had just returned from Mexico?  After all, our Spring Break just ended, a lot of kids in the class go on week-long vacations with their families, and yes, Mexico is a popular place for a lot of them to visit.  How would I feel about it all THEN?

Obviously, the more you know, the better you will be (in theory, anyway).  So yes, be more aware.  Wash hands more.  Stay away from sick people.  Take your vitamins.  But should Swine Flu continue to have the predominant focus in our lives right now??  Should it be making everyone all atwitter (especially on Twitter)?  Am I missing something to suggest otherwise??  I’m all for “better safe than sorry” but have we gotten a little too carried away??

Well, I am off to help with homework now.  And yes, we’ll wash our hands first.  Swine Flu or not, some things just make good sense.

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4 Responses to “Swine Flu — Epidemic or Paranoia?”

  1. LarkLady Says:
    April 30th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Considering that experts say the Swine Flu pandemic may actually be less severe than this past winter’s flu season, the media does seem overly preoccupied with it. On the other hand, if it raises awareness enough to change people’s habits — washing hands frequently, staying home when you’re not feeling well instead of going out and exposing people who may be high risk for respiratory infections, etc. — then perhaps it’s worth it.
    But here in my county, two cases have already been confirmed (brothers, as it happens) — and the school district promptly closed their schools to see if a rapid response can lessen the impact. At this point, that seems almost like overkill — but perhaps fast action will minimize the spread.
    Meanwhile, wash your hands!

  2. callieandbatito Says:
    May 3rd, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    The media certainly plays on America’s love of drama, suspense, tragedy, hope….no wonder we all can’t get enough coverage of the swine flu. There is something to be said for rasing the level of awarness so people are more diligent about staying home when their sick, washing hands etc. Now that my awarness is raised and I am taking the usual flu precautions, it’s time to turn off the TV and get my drama fix somehwere else.

  3. LarkLady Says:
    May 3rd, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Hey, CallieandBatido! I have 2 teenage daughters: if you want your drama fix somewhere else, you can borrow either or both of them 🙂
    In the media’s defense, if they didn’t cover the swine flu, there’d be accusations of cover up — and then we could get our drama fix on THAT topic! It’s always something, I guess.

  4. callieandbatito Says:
    May 4th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    So right LarkLady, sometimes the media can’t win. Thanks for the offer of lending me your teenage daughters but I have one of my own and she brings enough drama for 10 girls. 🙂

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