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Germ-Free Children: Freaking Out About the “Swine Flu”

Germ-Free Children: Freaking Out About the “Swine Flu”

Anyone who is up on their early 20th century world history is acquainted with the devastating 1918 Flu Pandemic (commonly known as the “Spanish Flu” and lasting from March 1918 until June of 1920) that spread nearly across the globe and killed an estimated twenty to forty million people. Researchers, historians and medical experts alike have been sounding the alarm for years concerning the likelihood of an equally virulent influenza virus, quickly spreading throughout the population and unleashing catastrophic numbers of casualties. Now, we have something called the “Swine Flu”, although there exists much controversy and debate over the name (in Thailand they call it the “Mexican Flu” and Israeli health officials have proposed adopting the same terminology, as the idea of using the word “swine” in a sentence makes some religious Jews uneasy), the general consensus is that this particular strain (H1N1 as it has been classified) is undoubtedly hazardous and may even be the real thing, as far as flu pandemics go. With nearly 2000 people in Mexico infected with this particular strain (with somewhere around 200 dead), and the numbers hovering around 70 in the United States (with one death reported earlier this morning), people are understandably freaking out.

However, considering the advanced modes of early detection and treatment, not to mention considerable medical advancements over the past 90 years, we could assume/hope we are not in for something as widespread and monstrous as the Spanish Flu of 1918. But you also need to factor into the equation the fact that the movement of people from place to place has exceeded anyone’s 1918 expectations, with globetrotting and frequent-flyer air-travel being what it is. Preliminary steps toward a possible vaccine formulation to fight this new virulent strain have been taken, but something like this would likely take months to produce and perfect. So what is a concerned parent to do? Hell, what is a concerned person to do?

Well, likely the first thing we need to do is to try to calm down, breathe a few times and know that, as gravely serious as this is, this headline grabber will pass (anyone remember the anthrax scare of 2002?). The natural human reaction to chaos and peril is a “fight or flight” response that, regardless of your reaction, tends to place you squarely in a state of tremendous stress. Worrying about germs, sickness, and airborne pathogens will not stave off any of the above, and will likely put you in a state of constant worry, thus diminishing the effectiveness of your immune system, and inviting in the sort of sickness you had been worrying about in the first place.

I would advise concern, but a sort of measured concern that comes with equal parts vigilance and unruffled coolness. The first, and maybe most effective, line of defense is hygiene. Be vigilant about washing your hands, as well as your children’s, in warm (if not somewhat hot) running water with soap, for a sustained period of about 30 seconds (try singing the “ABC song” with them while you do it, if they go for that sort of thing). Refrain from touching your eyes, mouth or nose with hands that are not freshly washed. The ever-popular surgeons mask, frequently worn in Japan by those who are sick or just trying to avoid sickness, is certainly not a bad idea (and it almost looks kind of cool and oddly fashionable). But, its true effectiveness has been called into question, and will not always protect you, or those around you, from airborne germs.There has been much excitement over the prophylactic benefits of flu drugs (Tamiflu, etc) and some areas are reporting an increase in sales of such drugs, as people stock up as a form of defense against the virus du jour. This is problematic for many reasons, the first being possible shortages in supply of such drugs leading to a surplus in some sectors and a deficit in others where such drugs are especially needed. Also, there have been notable reports that, along with the overuse of antibiotics, the overuse of said flu drugs could supremely backfire, leading to stronger, drug resistant strains of the flu virus, resulting in a more widespread problem.

So if you can, try to chill out, maintain proper hygiene, eat well, get plenty of rest, and think healthy thoughts as the world around us folds into a whirlwind of dread and chaos. And not that this is a neither pleasant nor comforting note to go out on, but it might help to remember that countless numbers of people die each year from nothing more than the common flu, but we still soldier on.

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

Parenting at the Crossroads

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

52 comments

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4:32AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

Has anyone asked why the death statistics of the common yearly flu are almost non-existant for the first time ever, and yet the swine flu statistics are the same as what the normal flu's would have been? Perhaps the swine flue is just the normal flu?
Also, why is it that the government persist with all these different animal flues? First there was avarian flu, then equine flu, now swine flu... what will be next (?) I ask you!

10:52AM PDT on Jun 14, 2009

thanks...
Kabin
Konteyner

7:03AM PDT on May 13, 2009

You need to teach kids, not to drink form water fountains at school use alcohol based hand sanitizer, wash hands and you need to watch those shopping cart handles. For more tips on keeping your family healthy.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4933446_disinfect-prevent-swine-flu.html

10:48AM PDT on May 11, 2009

What nobody realizes is according to the public health dept 98% of the homeopathic patients lived during the 1918 pandemic and 98% of the non homeopathic patients died! Homeopathy owrks and has STOPPED cholera and Typhoid epidemics in the US and worldwide. I am putting info on how to make your own homeopathi8c "vaccination" on my website- it shouldbe there or will be shortly. Check it out!!! healthrays.com

1:29PM PDT on May 4, 2009

Hi, all,
The story goes deeper into crime. Remember in 1976, the swine flu vaccine killed 2,300 people in 2 weeks after the government paid billions for the "free"-to-public vaccine? The vaccine was pulled and is still in the vaults.
k
Viruses are not alive; they have no nucleus, respiratory or digestive systems. Viruses are protein wastes in solvent solutions. They are as contagious as Tide soap. It is impossible for one animal tissue in solvent solution to appear in another animal because those tissues are not part of another animals cellular structures.

Have they been distributing the old swine flu vaccine as other medication in pockets in Mexico because they know it causes swine flu residues in people. Do the laboratories and government want to resell the vaccine and get rid of it for profit. The government is still paying for it to be vaulted and that is very expensive. Why didn't they dump it?
For the same reason they did not dump AZT when it was discovered by independent observers in 1969 that AZT was too toxic for chemotherapy? But when the government created the AIDS epidemic by contaminating Hepatitis B Vaccines and, in Africa the Smallpox Vaccines, they brought AZT out of the vaults and claimed it was good to treat AIDS. They treated AIDS patients with it and it killed most of them and they made a big profit as well as taking over 27 African countries resources.
Research the work of Dr. Leonard Horowitz and read the book Bio-Attack Alert.

1:26PM PDT on May 4, 2009

Hi, all,
The story goes deeper into crime. Remember in 1976, the swine flu vaccine killed 2,300 people in 2 weeks after the government paid billions for the "free"-to-public vaccine? The vaccine was pulled and is still in the vaults.
k
Virus are not alive; they have no nucleus, respiratory or digestive systems. Virus are protein wastes in solvent solutions. They are as contagious as Tide soap. It is impossible for one animal tissue in solvent solution to appear in another animal because those tissue are not part of another animals cellular structures.

Have they been distributing the old swine flu vaccine as other medication in pockets in Mexico because they know it causes swine flu residues in people. The stories about it appearing in other countries are fictitious stories because I have not been able to get any laboratory confirmation. Were those stories planted by US government and the pharmaceutical house that vaults the vaccine? Do the laboratories and government want to resell the vaccine and get rid of it for profit. The government is still paying for it to be vaulted and that is very expensive. Why didn't they dump it?

7:42AM PDT on May 3, 2009

The Avian flu was a hoax and was developed in a laboritory here in england. The swine flu is either a similar hoax or it is deliberate. I for one will fight to the last breath to prevent my kids from being jabbed with any vaccine. The effectiveness of vaccines in general is grossly over-rated; and the truth about them blatently suppressed. during the "avian-flu crisis" more people died from the jabs than the much-flaunted disease itself. But sales of it went up seven-fold. Which; along with analysing people's responses to scaremongering; was the point of the exercise. Our governments and their masters have been preparing for this for a long time. DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE!! DON'T GET YOUR KIDS VACCINATED!! it would be like throwing them to the dogs.

12:13PM PDT on May 1, 2009

Tammie, lol. I do the SAME exact thing. If someone coughs I hold my breath and move away. If you don't like shaking hands you should adopt the Japanese custom of "ojigi" (the bow), haha. I live in Oregon and the other day I heard this lady who came into my favorite coffee shop where I study say that she was visiting from San Diego. I immediately looked it up and found that it was one of the infected areas so I watched her like a hawk and kept my distance, haha. I know it sounds kind of insensitive, but I'm super careful too and have had especially good hygiene lately. Cheers!

11:16AM PDT on May 1, 2009

Jennifer the problem with the internet is that we can't 'see' people when they 'speak' so it's very easy to misread the intent of what they're 'saying' in a post. You meant to come across as concerned, enthusiastic, and with a desire to inform us - I misread you as panicked because of the repeated posts mixed in between the 'conspiracy' posts - which I might also have misread - and I might still be misreading you. So, I apologize for misreading you and offending you.

And you shouldn't count on me or anyone else for preparedness. We each need to take responsibility for our welfare.

The government is better prepared than before 2005 following the bird flu, but it is almost impossible to be completely prepared for something you didn't know existed before a week or 2 ago. It's also hard to justifiy the cost before an emergency occurs, which is probably why we're often running behind trying to catch up in situations like these.

This seems to be a more 'wait and see' situation as the government tries to figure out where this is going. I get the impression they're trying to prepare but still hoping it will 'burn' itself out like the one in the 70s. Because it's 'new' it could go either way.

I was greatly surprised by how many people die of the regular flu each year - over 30,000. The precautions seem to be the same regardless of the kind of flu. So, I wish everyone well. :)

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