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Swine Flu Hysteria – Time to Panic?
Is the great Swine Flu pandemic of 2009 media hype or is it for real?
Since last April, we’ve heard the battle cry: “The Swine Flu is coming! The Swine Flu is coming!” We’ve been bombarded on a daily basis with warnings that once “it” hits, the human race will be decimated. Only the elderly will survive.
Can I have my panic attack now?
Fear-mongering is a religion to those who rule the media. Scare-tactics work, as seen by high ratings. Worry and anxiety compel people to watch the 11 o’clock news. Terrifying news stories mean job security for ambitious reporters.
Just the Facts
Let’s explore the facts. Something most journalists seem to refuse to do these days.
- Patient zero, who we now know is 5-year old Edgar Hernandez, had the first documented case of swine flu in March of 2009. He lives in a rural area of Mexico and is completely cured.
- In June, the WHO (World Health Organization) branded the virus a pandemic. They estimated that although the virus spreads primarily during the winter months, they expected over 1 million people to become infected this last summer.
- In July, the “swine flu” was re-branded “H1N1,” since it’s a hybrid of swine, avian, and human strains of the virus.”
- Winter in Australia ended on September 21. Of the over 36,000 reported flu cases, there were 172 deaths.
- As of September 2009, there were almost 400,000 reported cases of the virus worldwide. There have been 4400 “suspected” deaths.
- The CDC estimates that in any given year, from 5%-20% of the population will get a “normal” flu. Of that percentage, about 200,000 will be hospitalized and 36,000 will die from flu-related causes.
- Older people are likely to resist the H1N1 stain, due to prior exposure.
- At risk for both normal and H1N1 viruses are: young children, pregnant women, and people with high-risk health conditions.
Keeping Things in Perspective
The Spanish flu pandemic, which occurred in 1918 and was another H1N1 strain, was the worst-recorded pandemic in recent times. Although that pandemic is credited with millions of deaths globally, many of those deaths were actually from “other” causes. It is estimated that anywhere between 20 and 100 million people succumbed to the pandemic between 1918 and 1919. These numbers are matched only with the Black Death plague pandemic, which occurred between 1328 and 1352, and killed one-third of the world’s population.
Will fear, anxiety, panic, and depression prevent you from getting the flu this year? Have these emotional feelings ever prevented anything from happening?
The answer to both questions is a resounding, “NO!”
Common Sense Tips
You can’t control pandemics, catastrophes, weather, or world events by worrying about them. But you can educate yourself and stay informed. By following these common sense tips, you will gain control over your anxiety and fear:
- Weigh the pros and cons of taking the vaccinations that become available. Research the side effects, and balance them with your own risk factors.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stockpile food supplies in case you get the flu, or, if there is an outbreak in your community and you need to stay home.
- If you are ill, don’t go to work or school. Stay away from the public. Don’t spread the virus.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If not available, carry a hand sanitizer with you and use it often.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use the inside of your upper arm if a tissue is not available.
- Build up your immune system. Exercise, eat correctly, drink plenty of fluids, get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, and practice relaxation techniques, including self-hypnosis, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. These viruses are spread primarily through the air, but can also be transmitted through direct contact with infected secretions present on other people or on contaminated surfaces.
- Avoid contact with feces and urine from birds and other mammals, as they can also transmit the virus.
- Seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms: high fever, chills, muscle aches, extreme fatigue, dry cough, headaches, sore throat, loss of appetite, runny or stuffy nose, and stomach upsets.
As with all aspects of your life, you need to realize that you are not a helpless victim. When you control your mind, you create a life filled with joy, hope, and possibilities.
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