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The flu of swine...

April 28, 2009 11:07 AM 4/28/09

So top of the news today is the whole Swine Flu epidemic. My wife is not taking it as seriously as I think she should be.

From a personal standpoint I think people are NOT overreacting to this. They _should_ be this paranoid about a pandemic.

Because it _will_ happen eventually.

Here’s the first thing - we’re making ourselves weaker as a species. The more we isolate ourselves from the natural environment, the more we use all these hospital-grade antibacterial cleaning methods, the more we worry about our children “catching something”, the weaker we become. (I’m not going to go into the over-immunization issue - that’s another rant for another time.)

I’m not against keeping clean or anything like that but geeze! The amount of constraints on the average US child or the amount of obsession that the average US adult has about cleaning is akin to trying to get everyone to live in a hospital!

We don’t need to be _that_ _clean_ with our lives. Doing so only creates a weaker immune system for all of us down the road as well as creating “resistant” diseases.



Lighten up on the hand sanitizer please!

The second thing - we’re moving people around the globe at an ever increasing rate.

This particular point sticks in my mind because of a set of Sci-Fi novels by David Weber called “Empire from the Ashes” in which a vast galactic empire was laid low because of teleportation and a slow-incubating disease with a swift and brutal active period. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler but the books have been out for years - go read them. Well worth paying the author for.)

Now we’re nowhere near having teleportation but if a disease having an incubation rate of say 3 weeks and an active period of 1 before killing the host then you can easily see where this could be a problem.

I’m not in any way medical nor a student of disease and even I can see there is a potential problem with this.

Imagine something like this infecting people at say a theme park that is internationally known or any other high-traffic tourist location. These people wouldn’t even know they were infected until they’d gone home and by then it would be too late.

This is not a good thing but there are some solutions.

1) Stay home when sick. Employers need to go back to having true sick days that do not punish the employee for being ill. (Even for us evil smokers.)

2) Eat locally grown food and locally butchered meats. There is less likelihood of a food bourn illness communicated to a large population if the food comes from somewhere close to them. (On top of it all you often get better food and sometimes it’s cheaper too.)

3) Stop thinking that you and your children must be “sanitized” and your environment “sterilized”. I’m not saying don’t clean just don’t be obsessive about it. The little “colds” you may or may not get as a result will only strengthen your body.

4) Stay as healthy as possible without resorting to chemicals or drugs. I’m NOT saying stop taking your medication and I’m NOT saying drugs are never needed. What I AM saying is that a lot of drugs are over-prescribed. Eat right, lose weight, exercise, and maybe some vitamins and that will help take care of a lot of what ails you in my opinion.


Personally I’m trying to do al four of those things. Sometimes I fail but most of the time I succeed. And if a lazy and aging computer geek can do it then so can you. ;-)




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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
entropy_house
Apr. 28th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
I do so agree with you. Another thing that would help would be at least *minimal* health checks for international travel *before* you board the plane. I've heard of airplanes on a transatlantic journey arriving with most of the passengers actively sick (the air recirculates so many times on a journey of that length that no one can be unexposed & this was a remarkably swift-acting virus--fortunately not a killer-- but it could have been.

Also it would help if the US didn't rely on other countries to produce vaccines. When ONE company in another country was shut down some years ago (because they violated heath standards, IIRC) it reduced the US flu vaccine supply to the point doctors were told to assess people requesting it, and only give it to those at high risk.

The pool of non-immunized people has grown to the point that 'herd immunity' is at risk.
nimitzbrood
Apr. 28th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
It also doesn't help that we're not applying the immunizations intelligently - for instance one at a time rather than multiples at once. In my opinion the body really should only have to deal with those on a single-hit basis.

So both the anti-immunization and pro-immunization people are right in one form or another. :-(
emiofbrie
Apr. 29th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
Just keep in mind during the last Swine Flu scare (1976), more people died from the vaccine than from the flu in the USA
nimitzbrood
Apr. 29th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
Yet another reason I don't like the current vaccine regime. From what I can find on the web there were 500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome after those vaccinations in '76 that never were truly explained.

I still can't believe that they use a live vaccine in some cases:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/nasalspray.htm

It makes some sort of sense but for my money it's another chance for the virus to adapt to our immune systems and spread.

Or does it not work that way?

acelightning
Apr. 29th, 2009 07:45 am (UTC)
At least at the moment, the risk from the current swine flu seems to be vastly exaggerated in the public mind. All the reported cases outside of Mexico seem to be a rather mild illness, as flu strains go, and highly responsive to modern anti-virals like Tamiflu. (And who knows how things might have gone in previous flu epidemics if we'd had such drugs earlier?) And the latest I've heard regarding why the death rate in Mexico seems to be so high has to do with the way Mexican health authorities record and report deaths from disease. Meanwhile, I'm trying to stay away from people who just came back from Mexico...

I'm still a big fan of hand-washing, with sanitizer as a poor second choice when soap and water aren't readily available. It's not just the flu that gets spread by touch; a lot of gastrointestinal ailments can be spread that way as well. (Note all the "Employees must wash hands before leaving the restroom" signs - there's a reason for it!) I agree that over-emphasis on sterilizing everything can actually reduce our immunity, and many of the common anti-bacterials are harmful in other ways. But I do think that basic cleanliness is just common sense.
bmhmom
Apr. 29th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you acelightning for bringing common sense to this.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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