Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen.
I do not have swine flu, and neither do you.
So everyone seems to be in a mild panic over the swine flu outbreak that has killed 150 people so far in Mexico. This is amusing when you consider the death toll from ordinary flu:
Since January, more than 13,000 people have died of complications from seasonal flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on the causes of death in the nation.
No fewer than 800 flu-related deaths were reported in any week between January 1 and April 18, the most recent week for which figures were available.
The report looks at deaths in the 122 largest cities in the United States.
Worldwide, the annual death toll from the flu is estimated to be between 250,000 and 500,000.
The only real concern to be had about the swine flu is that it’s a new strain so there’s no vaccine for it yet, but there probably will be before too long and in the meantime there are effective anti-viral medications that’ll work on it. The vast majority of people that catch swine flu will survive it, though there’s likely to be a few deaths given how many people ordinary flu kills on a regular basis. It’s something to be aware of, but nothing to panic about. Especially when you consider some other historical flu outbreaks to put things in perspective:
It’s estimated that about 28 per cent of Canadians and Americans contracted the Spanish flu. Worldwide, an estimated 2.5 per cent of the sick died of complications, which made the pandemic one of the most lethal flu outbreaks in recorded history. Certainly it was one that imprinted itself upon human consciousness for several generations.
So, even if we had a repeat of the 1918 flu, the chances were seven out of 10 that you wouldn’t catch it and if you did, the odds were better than nine out of 10 that you’d survive.
But there’s another way to look at those statistics. You might observe, for example, that they mean that even during the worst ravages of the 1918 flu, 97.5 per cent of those infected survived and recovered. Or that 72 per cent of the population—even in the absence of the sophisticated public health planning and infrastructure that Canada and the U.S. have since built—was not infected during the pandemic.
You want a pandemic to panic about? How about panicking a little over AIDS?
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has led to the deaths of more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, in 2007 the AIDS pandemic killed an estimated 2.1 million people, including 330,000 children. In 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people lived with the disease worldwide, with an estimated 2.5 million people newly infected in 2007. This has been attributed to lack of access to antiretroviral treatment in huge areas such as the continent of Africa, where less than 10 percent of infected are reported to have access to it. The pandemic is not homogeneous within regions, with some countries more afflicted than others. Even at the country level, there are wide variations in infection levels between different areas. The number of people living with HIV continues to rise in most parts of the world, despite the implementation of prevention strategies. Sub-Saharan Africa remains by far the worst-affected region, with an estimated 22.5 million people living with HIV at the end of 2007, 68% of the global total. South & South East Asia have an estimated 12% of the global total.
Ok, now that I got that out out of the way, I had a few ideas of things that can be done rather than worrying about swine flu. These are meant to either boost your spirits if you are concerned about the “crisis”, or give you an idea of how you can live a swine flu-free life. Face it, you’re not going to get swine flu. Ok, on with business.
Ben & Jerry’s should make a “Swine Flu” flavored ice cream.
Swine Flu – The Movie. Starring Will Smith and his son
I just finished watching a press conference from the Centers for Disease Control, and I can’t help but think that I’ve seen that scene before.
You know, the one wherein the lead character turns on the TV and some faux news broadcast covers an emerging crisis (from Global Cable News, or some other made-up network). We know it’s a hint that the utter destruction of civilization is coming in about 20 minutes or so, but our protagonist simply notes it, which makes sense, since portent of Armageddon haunt almost every hour of the daily news (and swirls across the Internet far more frequently, as well as virulently).
Maybe it’s a symptom of my loss of faith in our public institutions. I mean, come on now, our government couldn’t predict the fall of the Soviet Union, the miasma in Iraq, the devastation of Katrina, or the collapse of our economy. What has it done or said that proves it knows what’s going on with the swine flu outbreak?
Every declaration is nuanced or caveated with blatant wiggle room: it’s a public health emergency, only not really. Travel is being restricted, well…
We’ve seen the entire movie, actually, only today I think it feels like it’s really happening.
Heidi and Spencer(from the Hills) recently had a honeymoon in Mexico and possibly could have contracted the swine flu. This is great news.
Stop buying Lysol and any other disinfectant products.
Lysol, Dial and Purell are updating their marketing campaigns to address the recent Swine Flu pandemic.As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising hand-washing as a key tool for stopping the spread of swine flu, soap and hygiene brands are updating their websites, and spreading the word that consumers can help protect themselves by using their products.
Disinfectant brand Lysol has updated its homepage with information on swine flu. Information includes spraying your entire house with at least 10 cans of Lysol, and spraying people who may look sick.
Dial has launched a print and online campaign encouraging people to wash their hands more often. With more Dial soap.
Johnson & Johnson has also updated the website for its brand Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer, giving information on hygiene. Like use more Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer.
People dying is sad. I’m not saying it isn’t. But I am saying that people are freaking out for no reason right now. There are Six Billion people on this planet and tons of people die everyday from Cancer, AIDS, and Maleria. 36000 people die from the REGULAR flu every year. And that’s a fact, jack. So let’s all stop hating on pigs. You like pig. Remember pig? Bacon? Go have some sausage. That’s right. You eat that hotdog. Just eat that hotdog and calm down.