JOE MALIK: DON'T PANIC >>>
Oh lord, itâ€™s finally happened. We have a pandemic to panic about. The swine flu is in full effect, Tacoma. And everyone is freaking out. Especially people who donâ€™t have health insurance or health care. When I heard about this pig thing, it sent me into a spiral of paranoia and grim contemplation. What happens if I get swine flu? Where do I go? What happens to the thousands of people who have no health insurance and no income to pay medical bills? Does AFLAC cover swine flu? What about Washington State Basic Health?
The more I thought about this, the worse it got. So I decided to stop panicking. You shouldnâ€™t panic either, according to Miranda Hitti at WebMD. So far, swine flu has only hit 141 people in the United States, and 331 people worldwide, according to the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Those numbers will obviously rise, but weâ€™re not at a point where we should lose it over swine flu. A poll from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that 59 percent of people responding are washing their hands more often and using hand sanitizer to protect themselves. That doesnâ€™t sound too crazy. But poll also shows that 17 percent of respondents are avoiding Mexican restaurants or grocery stores and 13 percent were pretty sure they could get swine flu from eating pork.
For the record, both of those notions are really dumb.
To put things in perspective, WebMD offers the following soothing facts.
First, most swine flu cases havenâ€™t been all that severe. The worst cases have been in Mexico, and most people infected have recovered without having to go to the hospital. Most cases of swine flu have been pretty much like the regular old flu, sharing symptoms and severity. Honestly, you should probably be more concerned about the regular flu, which kills about 36,000 people per year, and hospitalizes close to 200,000 people per year.
Next, weâ€™re not as defenseless as the evil media would have us believe.Wash your hands, donâ€™t touch your eyes, nose or mouth, and stay away from sick people, and youâ€™ll probably be O.K.
Also, we are about as prepared for a flu pandemic as we ever have been. The whole bird flu scare a while back sent government agencies, health care organizations and citizens into prep mode. That means "the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history," according to a statement issued by World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan.
Also, pandemics aren't all deadly, apparently. The term pandemic is about how far and wide a virus spreads, and not how many people it kills. This isnâ€™t the movies, and weâ€™re probably not facing any kind of biological apocalypse. Sorry folks. Maybe a really good virus will come along soon so we can live out our favorite Hollywood apocalypse scenarios. Until then, take some simple steps to avoid exposure to this flu or any of the others floating around, and avoid buying into all the hype. It will help you avoid doing stupid things like buying an iPhone app to track swine flu cases.
Yeah, there really is an iPhone app out there. Any sort of mass panic tends to draw profiteers and scheisters like flies to a pig.