I’m not trying to be a fear monger, but it’s not a bad thing to be informed about what’s going on in the arena of public health. Sure, the big “swine flu” scare has seemed to have died down some, but according to the Department of Public Health, there is an increasing number of novel Influenza A (H1N1) cases across L.A. County.
Maybe it’s because I work in health care and get frequent alerts (and probable exposures) that I keep up on it. While the WHO (World Health Organization) has deemed the outbreak a pandemic, the illnesses have been relatively mild and the total number of deaths worldwide are a fairly small percentage of confirmed cases. However, the public health watchdogs aren’t forgetting the 1918 (Spanish) flu pandemic, which killed millions around the world.
I’m not panicking and you shouldn’t either. Just be smart. Wash your hands, cover your cough, avoid going to work or crowded public spaces if you have any influenza-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue). You don’t have to become a full-on germaphobe, but these measures can keep you from getting other icky things too.
More recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are here. In case you’re wondering, they are not endorsing “swine flu parties,” so attend those at your own risk.
The current swine flu pandemic is starting to bring about closures throughout the nation. Texas has postponed all high school sporting events. In California, three private schools have already closed as a precautionary measure.
So what about May Day?
According to their website, A.N.S.W.E.R.L.A. is still hosting their annually mass march and rally in Downtown Los Angeles this Friday to “stop war & end racism” and demand “full rights for all immigrants.”
Having identified Patient Zero, we know that current strain of the flu originated in Mexico. While it may be a painful, politically-charged question to ask, is such a large gathering at this time a good idea?
Better yet, is any large gathering a good idea? Should we be talking about postponing Major League Baseball games? What do we do about large gatherings of people on trains or buses? Should there be flu screenings at LAX?
Of course, there is a tendency to say that we are overreacting. We hope we are. But, some are saying the United States isn’t reacting enough. According to the Associated Press, Malaysian health workers in face masks are taking the temperatures of passengers touching down from Los Angeles. FROM LOS ANGELES.
Now does the pig have your attention?
Photo from amitrunchal’s flickrstream