Ok, I've been told that we're no longer calling it the Swine Flu. It's now the H1N1 Virus, or, the artist formerly known as Swine Flu.
Either way, I'm wondering what's REALLY up with this illness?
First of all, last week there was news that we had three confirmed cases in Maine. Then we were told there were five confirmed cases. On Friday, I heard that a high school in Augusta had closed because of an outbreak. But just now I visited the CDC Website, and it lists Maine as having no cases of H1N1.
Second, we were originally told that there were well over 100 deaths in Mexico; but over the weekend, I heard that most of those deaths apparently weren't really from H1N1. There were conflicting reports. Which is true?
Third, and also according to the CDC, the U.S. sees thousands of deaths from influenza each year. We're talking 40,000-ish deaths each year. From the CDC website:
During the 2007--08 influenza season, the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) exceeded the epidemic threshold†† for 8 consecutive weeks in the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System during the weeks ending January 12--May 17, 2008 (weeks 9--16).
Wow, "exceeded the epidemic threshold?" Did you hear about it at the time? I didn't. Did anyone?
Currently, we have 279 confirmed cases of H1N1 in this country, and one death; but the words "pandemic" and "epidemic" are being thrown around very liberally. So what is a pandemic? Definitions online all basically say that a pandemic is an epidemic that is geographically widespread. And an epidemic? An epidemic is an outbreak of an infectious disease, where many people are infected at the same time.
Oh wait, although the CDC website doesn't list Maine, as I write this, the TV morning news stated that the first H1N1 case in Maine was confirmed yesterday. So which is right? Which media frenzy do we listen to?
Over the weekend, my husband developed a fever of about 99.7, and one of our daughters had a fever of 100.2. Neither of them had any other symptoms, and normally we'd really think nothing of it. But these fevers made us paranoid - not so much that we were having a Swine Flu outbreak in our family, but rather, because we might be contagious. Should we go out in public? Should we wear masks? Should we quarantine ourselves in the house and put yellow police tape across the driveway? It felt a bit like hiding the fact that we might have the black death. In spite of the fevers, everyone felt fine - but was it a trick?
As of this morning, there are no more fevers in our house. I'm also happy to report that there have been no deaths and no one has coughed up a lung.
I just wonder who to believe. Sure this is a concern, but is it any different from all the other years and all the other flu seasons? I wonder.
Copyright © 2009 - Paulla Estes