At the risk of provoking the Universe, I’m going to say this out loud. I am not the least bit worried about swine flu. Lots of people get sick from the flu every year. Some people die, most people recover.
Lets talk about the flu today. It’s a slow day at work and other than having cast on the left panel of the Sylvi jacket and contemplating another project (a nice summer top. I have the book at home. Not sure how “French” it is but there are some cute patterns that involve no seaming) I’ve got nothing.
Influenza is a normal part of being human and yes, it sucks ass. In micro-biology we learned that pigs, and ducks (or fowl) are vectors for the disease before it spreads to humans. With global travel easily available the flu can quickly spread from one country to another.
The flu is a virus and spreads through human to human contact, through coughing, sneezing, and contact with other bodily fluids. Unsanitary conditions can help spread the disease. Other mitigating factors such as poverty (and everything that goes along with that such as poor nutrition), having an already compromised immune system (ie. HIV, AIDS) or having a weak immune system (being very young or very old) can have a direct impact on how successfully your body is able to fight off the flu. Sometimes in healthy people the immune system overreacts and makes you more sick than you otherwise would be.
Wearing a surgical mask does not do anything to prevent you from getting sick. Virus’ are tiny. Very tiny. Virus’ easily flit and float through holes in the fabric of surgical masks right into your mouth and nose. It may have a psychological effect of making people feel better and looking scary on the TV news but other than that does nothing.
The flu shot. I’m fully prepared to take whatever criticism may come my way from this next bit. Just an FYI. Unless you are in an at risk group (very young, very old, immuno-suppressed, or on medications that suppress your immune system) the shot is unnecessary. Even if you are in an at risk group be aware that the flu vaccine is giving you live bits of virus. Creepy eh? That’s why it’s not recommended for anyone under 2 or over 50. The thing about the flu shot is it’s a guess. It’s a vaccine against the strains we think are going to be prevalent in a given year. It may engender some immunity against similar strains, but if the prevalent strain is not one included in the vaccine and is not similar, you’ve got no immunity. I admit for the record that I am very afraid of needles and refuse to get any more shots than absolutely necessary. Because the flu vaccine contains live virus bits it can make you sick. Flu vaccines are offered at the law firm every Nov/Dec. If I had to guess, I’d say about a quarter of the people who get the shot get sick. Some get sick enough to stay home, some only get sick enough to feel crappy.
If you get sick from the flu, asking your doctor for anti-biotics isnt going to do you any good. A post on the over use of anti-biotics in the US and in industrialized farming will have to wait for another day. The flu is caused by a virus and anti-biotics are no good against a virus. They only work with bacterial infections. Same thing goes for the common cold. It’s a virus too. Anti-biotics will do you no good. They’ll only kill off your own internal flora which actually help your immune system do it’s job.
Oh, if you get sick from the flu, for God’s sake, stay the fuck home. That is if you can. I understand not everyone has this luxury. If you work for a company that does not offer sick time (about 50% of companies dont) you have to make a decision about staying home, loosing pay, the possibility of not being able to make your bills at the end of the month, and going to work. Other companies make you get a Dr.’s note if you’re out for more than two consecutive days. Some companies do both and to add insult to injury count your missed time against you when your performance review comes up and any missed time can effect your raise. I’ve been through this many times and It. Totally. Sucks. Ass. All that being said, if you can stay home, stay home. We all may have leaned the importance of sharing in kindergarten, sharing chocolate is one thing. Everyone likes that kind of sharing. Sharing the flu is another. That kind of sharing is not the way to win friends and influence people. If you work with people who come to work sick, wash your hands, drink lots of fluids, and if you desk share with someone who is sick wiping down the keyboard/computer/phone/desk with alcohol (not the drinking kind) may help some.
If you’re worried about swine flu, read this. Someone posted this in the Yarn Harlot’s comments section today. Hopefully it’ll take the fear right out of ya.
If you take away one small bit of comfort today, know that part of the reason we’re seeing cases in the US isnt necessarily because of an increase in the actual # of flu cases. Increased testing, scrutiny, and awareness is going to result in a supposed increase in the # of cases of swine flu. The # of deaths in Mexico attributed to swine flu (what 160 or so now) is only a guess. Many of the bodies of people who have died havent been tested. Bottom line, we dont know if these people died from swine flu or not. Besides, here in the US thousands of people die of the flu every flu season and it doesnt get reported in the news. It’s the flu. When I was a kid it wasnt unusual during flu season to have half or more of the class out with the flu. To quote Douglas Adams: “Dont Panic”
That concludes your PSA for today boys and girls. Go home and wash your hands.