Swine Flu - media hype?


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John McLeod VII
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Message 889753 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 3:11:37 UTC - in response to Message 889748.

I'm with the skeptics on this one! It's the flu... and yes influenza kills people... primarily the very young, the very old and those already compromised by other medical conditions.

Andy the decision is yours, but personally I wouldn't cancel my travel plans. When you return home, you may want to avoid kissing babies, grandmothers and sick people for a while - at least until you are sure you haven't picked up any bugs.

I read in the paper today that about 4000 people die of influenza in California each year. Not sure why new flu strains make such splashy headlines.

Doesn't it seem like flu strains always look fairly lethal initially, simply because the people being tested and confirmed as infected in the "first wave" tend to be those who get sick enough to be hospitalized? I mean, for every person who hits the ER on death's door with the flu, there tend to be hundreds of the rest of us out there who are home feeling crappy, shivering under a blanket and drinking hot tea. Then 9 out of 10 people hospitalized with the new strain of influenza die and the papers scream stuff about the flu being 90% fatal. Those of us at home drinking our tea never have our Swine flu, Avian flu, SARs etc confirmed medically, we recover fully and our numbers don't go into the fatality statistics.

Yesterday I saw two people in masks! One person was in the waiting room in the hospital where I work, the other person was on BART (our public transit system here in the SF Bay Area). The funny thing was that both masks appeared entirely ineffective. One mask was a wrap around rectangle, fairly open around the perimeter. The other mask was a hardware store dust mask without a good seal. I am fashion-challenged enough without donning one of these silly things! I simply refuse to panic until confronted with more reliable flu information than appears to currently be "out there".

I agree that it is not time to panic (with the possible exception of Mexico). However, the public health system needs to start gearing up for a possible problem. It should also not be completely ignored. Most of use should stay aware of the issue, but go on with our normal routine.

Normal flu makea a few % of the people sick, and < 0.1% of those die. The 1918 pandemic had 50% of the world get sick and up to 10% of those died. There is a bit of a difference here.

Whether this flu will be anything approaching 1918 is yet to be determined.

I also remember the swine flu of 1976 or so. The cure was about as bad as the disease in that the vaccine caused its own share of problems.
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Message 889756 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 3:31:45 UTC

To through in one more variable, with 24 hour news channels, 2 hours of local news every evening and talk radio...well they do what they have to in order to fill all that time. So, what happens, like others have said, for profit or to grab a share of the ratings, they will inflate an already inflated situation.
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Message 889761 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 4:04:19 UTC - in response to Message 889577.

YAY!! I'll help keep the guns loaded =)
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Message 889763 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 4:09:50 UTC - in response to Message 889010.

The masks are out already, My best freind saw people (IN THEIR CARS!!!!?!?!) driving home from work w/masks on! He called me up to ask me what the H was going on LOL- I reassured him and told him it's a mild case of Wideasspreadus panic. Poor guy told him to load up the shotguns just in case =)
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Message 889764 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 4:14:57 UTC

Soory all just trying to keep my levity up =)
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Message 889765 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 4:15:21 UTC - in response to Message 889748.

I'm with the skeptics on this one! It's the flu... and yes influenza kills people... primarily the very young, the very old and those already compromised by other medical conditions.

Andy the decision is yours, but personally I wouldn't cancel my travel plans. When you return home, you may want to avoid kissing babies, grandmothers and sick people for a while - at least until you are sure you haven't picked up any bugs.

I read in the paper today that about 4000 people die of influenza in California each year. Not sure why new flu strains make such splashy headlines.

Doesn't it seem like flu strains always look fairly lethal initially, simply because the people being tested and confirmed as infected in the "first wave" tend to be those who get sick enough to be hospitalized? I mean, for every person who hits the ER on death's door with the flu, there tend to be hundreds of the rest of us out there who are home feeling crappy, shivering under a blanket and drinking hot tea. Then 9 out of 10 people hospitalized with the new strain of influenza die and the papers scream stuff about the flu being 90% fatal. Those of us at home drinking our tea never have our Swine flu, Avian flu, SARs etc confirmed medically, we recover fully and our numbers don't go into the fatality statistics.

Yesterday I saw two people in masks! One person was in the waiting room in the hospital where I work, the other person was on BART (our public transit system here in the SF Bay Area). The funny thing was that both masks appeared entirely ineffective. One mask was a wrap around rectangle, fairly open around the perimeter. The other mask was a hardware store dust mask without a good seal. I am fashion-challenged enough without donning one of these silly things! I simply refuse to panic until confronted with more reliable flu information than appears to currently be "out there".


Thank you Angela, I could not have said it better.

I deal with the public everyday and they don't want to see me with a mask.
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Message 889780 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 5:12:47 UTC - in response to Message 889749.



I am not suggesting that we take this lightly, but the blind panic that I see will do more harm than good, IMHO.


I don't think you see the blind panic on the forum here do you? The blind panic is out in media land.

As said before, I am about to head straight into the thick of it on Saturday and am not concerned in the slightest.

I haven't done the math, but I suspect I still have more chance of crashing the car on the way to the airport or even of the plane dropping out the sky on the way to the US than I do of being killed off from the Flu bug.
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Message 889786 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 5:57:11 UTC - in response to Message 889763.

The masks are out already, My best freind saw people (IN THEIR CARS!!!!?!?!) driving home from work w/masks on! He called me up to ask me what the H was going on LOL- I reassured him and told him it's a mild case of Wideasspreadus panic. Poor guy told him to load up the shotguns just in case =)


Why in heaven are people wearing masks? To stop a virus? Another fine way to make money out of the gullible.

The complete name of viruses is "filterable virus" because a filter (mask) stops bacteria but viruses just sail through them. In fact viruses were first defined as those that can pass through not just a mask but diatomite or unglazed porcelain. This sort of event is mask-makers' heaven.

I notice that the saner voices involved with public health, including Obama, are not pushing masks for the pure and simple reason that they are utterly and completely useless.
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Message 889797 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:05:25 UTC


Sorry Pete but not correct.
We have three sorts of masks in germany.
At least one of them protects in a good manner.

There was a report in the news last night about the flu.
3 confirmed causes in germany by now.
Am i scared, no.

The university in luebeck are just analizing the genetic code of the virus.
They found 5 different parts of other known viruses.

If we remember 5 years ago everyone told us its impossible to get infected by an animal virus.
The infection rate is rather low.
No time to panic but for good information.

Just wait another 10 years we will see much more sorts of viruses with much higher infection rate.

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Message 889801 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:21:35 UTC

Thanks for that Mike. I didn't know there was a mask suitable for viruses. I hope it is possible to breathe in them!

There is the usual high standard of article from Ben Goldacre in today's Guardian. Puts an unexpected slant on things.
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Message 889815 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 11:08:04 UTC

You could impregnate the mask with some anti viral substance so that the virus would be reduced on the way through.
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Message 889818 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 11:11:54 UTC

A better way to prevent catching the flu (or just common colds, for that matter) is to wash your hands, often and well.
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Message 889884 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 16:08:40 UTC - in response to Message 889818.

A better way to prevent catching the flu (or just common colds, for that matter) is to wash your hands, often and well.


Sorry but thats only an additonal prevent.
The Flu is an droplet infection most of the particle are in the air.
Up to 100.000 particle per cbm.

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Message 889889 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 16:22:51 UTC - in response to Message 889884.

A better way to prevent catching the flu (or just common colds, for that matter) is to wash your hands, often and well.


Sorry but thats only an additional prevent.
The Flu is an droplet infection most of the particle are in the air.
Up to 100.000 particle per cbm.

And is highly dependent on where one is at any one moment in time in relation to a sick person(if any), As air currents can only go so far and surfaces can have the flu on It and people wipe their hands through their eyes and other like areas a lot. I'm just going to continue on as normal.
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Message 889893 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 16:33:23 UTC

The local TV news just reported that the first "probable" swine flu case has been detected in our state. Emphasis on "probable". It has not even been proven to be the swine flu strain. But the news program is all over it like a buzzard on road kill. They spend 15 minutes (50% of the newscast) on the story interviewing people who are speculating on speculation. Meanwhile, the pending legislation on making wearing car seatbelts mandatory (we are the only state in the country without a seatbelt law) got 5 seconds of coverage. Which one will truly affect more lives in this state?

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Message 889899 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 16:48:13 UTC
Last modified: 30 Apr 2009, 16:53:38 UTC


[EDIT: @ all]

AFAIK - in the UK you see now a 'commercial'.. a man in an elevator with the flu - sneezing and the elevator is 'infected'..
The other persons touch the areas where he sneezed..

It's not for to make panic - more for information that you need to sneeze in/to your hand.. :-D
OTOH.. but if he shake hands after.. ;-)

So - think about.. it's much easier to get it as you think.. ;-)

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Message 889901 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 16:49:44 UTC - in response to Message 889899.


AFAIK - in the UK you see now a 'commercial'.. a man in an elevator with the flu - sneezing and the elevator is 'infected'..
The other persons touch the areas where he sneezed..

It's not for to make panic - more for information that you need to sneeze in/to your hand.. :-D
OTOH.. but if he shake hands after.. ;-)

So - think about.. it's much easier to get it as you think.. ;-)


The government line over here is to sneeze into your elbow, not into your hand. It looks funny, but it seems to work.

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Message 889903 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 16:52:34 UTC - in response to Message 889901.


AFAIK - in the UK you see now a 'commercial'.. a man in an elevator with the flu - sneezing and the elevator is 'infected'..
The other persons touch the areas where he sneezed..

It's not for to make panic - more for information that you need to sneeze in/to your hand.. :-D
OTOH.. but if he shake hands after.. ;-)

So - think about.. it's much easier to get it as you think.. ;-)


The government line over here is to sneeze into your elbow, not into your hand. It looks funny, but it seems to work.

That works If one has an elbow to sneeze into(I have them, But I can't get them as close as I'd like, Not without breaking My arm, no thanks), Here I still do It into My hand as 40 odd years of habits is hard to break.
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Message 889908 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 17:07:36 UTC

Acording to the W.H.O. on the BBC World Service this morning 30/4 actual CONFIRMED death's in Mexeco from this outbreak is 7 yes 7 although this will change as more samples are checked this is apperently due to the difficulty in determining the exact strain of flu most of you are falling in to the Media trap of using the word pandemic without the suffex level 5,Andy in the UK last winter 2008/09 there were 12,000 deaths due to Ordinary Common Garden veriety flu so go on enjoy your trip and post any pics you can when you get back.
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Message 889920 - Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 18:02:34 UTC - in response to Message 889908.

From CNN:

"It was also learned that a Mexican toddler who visited Texas with his family and died Monday night in Houston, spent a day with his family shopping at a huge Houston indoor mall the day before he began to show symptoms, said Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, who interviewed the boy's family."


Since this news was released a few hours ago the school officials in my area began talking about shutting down all the schools, as well as urging local officials to consider shutting down and/or limiting mall access, movie theaters, etc. There's even been a bit of talk about limiting public transit.

Yup, seems the folks where I live are in full out pre-panic mode...

Both my mother's and my father's parents (both sets, all four of them) died in the 1918 influenza pandemic when my parents were very young children. Am I scared now? Well, no, not yet. But this pandemic thing hits a bit close to home after growing up hearing about my grandparents and what they suffered through.



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