Blame it on the Flu

The fear of swine is almost palpable in Goa. It’s the new big thing…It’s the subject of conversations; it’s on everyone’s mind. It’s everywhere. After Pune and Mumbai it’s obvious that Goa is next. Given that swine flu is flu with just a low rate of mortality, I feel that this fear is needless, ok let me rephrase that, this palaver and panic everyone is making about swine flu is unnecessary. I’ve read the real dope from survivors and I’m close to believing
that this is more of an information overdose pandemic.

I’m not saying I’m not scared. Scared for myself. Scared for my children, my family, and my friends’ .But one is more likely to die of sheer worry than of the flu. The virus is nasty, I’ve no doubt about that and painful I’m sure. But don’t think that anti-virals like Tamilflu are preventives. Don’t just pop ‘em just because you have them. They have to be taken in exactly the first 48 hours after getting the infection, else it is pretty useless. Its side-effects may be worse than the flu itself. Especially in children.

Anyway here are a general set of guidelines:

The US recommends maintaining 6 ft distance from infected persons. Infected persons should use hankies while coughing and sneezing. These viruses can survive on normal surfaces up to 8 hrs. Pregnant women, infants and children as well as those with some major illness are at high risk. So keeping household surfaces clean is imperative.

The established protocol is: visit your GP. If s/he thinks you are an H1Ni suspect he will send you to the nearest hospital. In Goa it is either GMC or Cottage Hospital in Chicalim.
If the hospital thinks you have H1Ni, they will take a throat swab. If a sample is taken Tamilflu will be administered.
Serious cases will be quarantined immediately. Those in contact with you will also be tested.

Treatment Options: paracetamol is the most useful to alleviate symptoms. Globally two vaccines are in the pipeline and are in the final stages of testing. Hopefully they should be ready by the end of they year. In India, Union Health Minister has promised an indigenous vaccine by Jan of next year.

It is impossible to predict when this pandemic will end, and there is real danger only if the virus mutates, but examples from the past tell us that this pandemic might go on for another 6 months to a year after which the virus will circulate as any regular flu. Even if the flu scare abates, the media-enabled panic will certainly be seen again in the times to come. Don’t you think we are moving into a world where panic can be fueled for the tiniest of reasons?

I know swine flu is not a joke, but I couldn’t help telling you about something I just read. . According to the Chicago Tribune, Ilana Jackson and Jeremy Fierstien got married in surgical masks and latex gloves less than 48 hours after they learned they had swine flu. It was a wedding to remember;They didn’t dance, they didn’t walk down the aisle, nor were they able to interact with any of the guests. Rather than feel depressed about what had happened they chose to laugh about it. The guests told them to give it a few years and they’d laugh about it ‘I’m, like, give me a few weeks,’ they replied.” For those who were brave enough to show up, masks and gloves were available to anybody who was so inclined, but the bride and groom were just about the only ones wearing them. Really testing that whole “Till death do us part.” thing huh? Where do you think they’d go on their honeymoon? Mexico?

Swine Flu Wedding

  • August 2009
    M T W T F S S
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