A call for rationality…

Is it just me? Am I really the only person who see’s this?

Is it just me or is this Swine Flu (of Super-Ultra-Mega-Doom!) really just another flu, sure its a bit worse than the one that we all get every year, however at the end of the day its basically the same thing, right? So young children, the elderly and those who are from area’s with poor health care (and thus poor general health) need to be careful.

This differs from the normal influenza situation how?

All this fear mongering the media has taken part in has done nothing but cause panic, and social media has played a major role in this. Thanks to the echo chamber of Twitter and the millions of people already living in fear (financial crisis/war on terror/Israel-Palestine conflict/North Korean rocket launches – take your pick) these kind of alerts spread misinformation at the speed of light.

I did a tiny bit of research using trusty old google and pulled the following stats:

In the USA there were on average 41,400 deaths per year from 1979 to 2001.
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology

41,400 deaths… from the 3 common strains of influenza… EVERY YEAR…

Death toll for Swine Flu according to latest reports: 22 (lets assume there are double that many, that would make 44) We need to see that number multiply 1000x in order to make it as deadly as the common strains of influenza.

I’m not saying its not a threat, Im not saying it isn’t a tragedy that these people died, I’m simply saying take a breath, relax and go on living your lives. If you happen to be unlucky enough to catch the dreaded swine flu do what you always do, go see a doctor, get plenty of bed rest, keep up your liquids and take paracetamol to keep your fever down. The end is not that nigh!


10 thoughts on “A call for rationality…

  1. Good advice,

    * reaching for face mask *

    I think I will take a breath (via clean air brought to me via my 3M face mask), relax (knowing that, that was the best $3.99 I ever spent) and go on living my life (with said mask permanently stuck to my face).

  2. Do you really want to keep that pretty little face covered up Julian? Girls everywhere will be heart broken…

  3. Whilst I’m sure that your understanding of the situation exceeds WHO’s and probably anyone else’s, I do humbly agree that due in part to channels such as Twitter etc, the general fear of this outbreak has probably been exacerbated. Back in 68 when the Hong Kong flu killed a million people, these information avenues didn’t exist & thus less misinformation was being spread. Of course people are going to freak out when they hear that a flu pandemic may be imminent & 150-odd people have died in a week. In those first few days to a week after this information goes public, people are always going to be scared.

    The majority of the deaths from the regular strains of flu occur in people 65 & over whereas most of the deaths from swine flu were adults much younger, which is common with pandemic flu. This is a new strain of flu that we haven’t been vaccinated against. Also, this is a human-to-human flu (unlike bird flu which was from contact with birds only) which potentially makes it a lot more of a concern. The WHO criticised the media for not reporting on avian flu enough when that was first going around. How SHOULD a potentially imminent pandemic be dealt with?

  4. Well a starting point would be to not report until figures are confirmed…

    An initial report of 150+ that is 3 days later reduced to 16 is a pretty dramatic over reaction.

    There have been dozens of articals over the last few days from influenza specialists stating that the swine flu does not pose the level of threat that is being hyped, even going as far as to say that the avian flu still currently poses a higher risk level.

    I am not saying it isn’t a bad strain, Im simply saying its not something that panic is going to fix. The same rules apply to this strain as all the others and as we have seen early treatment has clearly worked to prevent death. (there have been 1000+ confirmed cases)

  5. It comes down to whether the public should know immediately that they are at risk, or a week or two later when it is known that the virus will not continue to spread. That is a decision that I am sure is not taken lightly. Can you imagine if the WHO had silently increased the alert level to phase 5 & we weren’t even aware of the danger until a pandemic was upon us? Panic never fixes anything, but that is not to say that the measures Mexico took to contain the virus (closing all non-essential services, etc) did not have any effect. Had it been kept quiet until all deaths were confirmed, many more may have died.

    It’s still too early to say that there is no real continued threat – the virus has not taken hold in the Southern Hemisphere which is where it could really do some damage as we are entering winter, which is where the flu virus thrives.

  6. And I have acknowledged in the post that it still poses a threat.

    My point is simply that fear mongering is not going to help.

    I believe WHO did the right thing, it is the media who ran with the story, skewed the figures to create fear as well as the echo chamber of the internet which allows these things to grow and morph like a game of chinese whispers on crack that is where my issue lies.

    Once again, not saying its not a threat, just saying people need to chill out.

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