Flu, 2009-style

Not long ago, I posted about the 1918 flu pandemic. Whole cities enacted laws about wearing surgical masks. Schools and courts shut down. Large areas of daily life changed radically.

Some interesting facts:

1. It seemed to strike the young and healthy (that is, not just really old and really young people).

2. It seemed to come in the spring, then come back in a much deadlier form the following winter.

So… let’s talk about the new outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and Texas.

This article mentions the surprising facts that:

1. The outbreak seems to be affecting the young and healthy.

2. It’s hitting in warm places, where they’d have expected the flu season to be over by now.

2. (Unlike in the past) it doesn’t seem to be limited to people who actually handle swine.

I usually don’t get nervous about stuff like this, but reading about the 1918 outbreak might have made me sweat a little more than usual.

[On a lighter note, the site I link to quotes an infectious diseases guy saying that flu spreading in the summer would give his organization heartburn. And the site puts the word “heartburn” into a hyperlink going to a page with information about heartburn.]

4 Responses to Flu, 2009-style

  1. Kevin April 26, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    So, this week at our house we’ll be hosting a young healthy person who has been living in South America. Hmmm. What are the appropriate quarantine procedures to implement? I’m thinking we’ll give all the kids surgical masks and Purel stations at strategic points around the house. Do you think our guest will notice?

  2. weeklyrob April 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    If he (or she) is coming from Mexico, it would probably feel just like home.

  3. Bob April 28, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    I just read a newsletter from a very well respected doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. He does not think this is a reason to panic but said that this is a good time to plan, for this flu or the next one. Eventually we are going to have a problem

    He said that isolation is the best way to prevent the spread. He suggests having a 2-3 week supply of food and – pasted in – For various respiratory threats I would suggest keeping a small supply of fiber surgical masks around. Dousing them with several drops of eucalyptus oil goes a long way toward both preventing and treating respiratory infections. Type N95 masks cost a dollar or less each and offer improved filtering power against bacteria and other pathogens. Keep a few on hand for everyone in the family. You can find the masks in many pharmacies or at any medical supply house or on the Internet. While you’re shopping, include a box of surgical gloves as well.

  4. weeklyrob April 29, 2009 at 6:11 am #

    This article points out that the CDC isn’t recommending masks because of their limited effectiveness.

    Touching something and not washing your hands before touching your nose or mouth is the most common way to get the flu.

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