There has been a lot of concern with the spread of the “swine flu” in the media. I want to start with some facts to diffuse the panic. First, according to the CDC, regular flu causes over 55, 000 deaths in a year in the U.S. alone. Since the outbreak of the “swine flu” pandemic, as of May 2nd, there have been one death from the swine flu in the U.S. Since the beginning of the 2008/2009 flu season, there have been 53 pediatric deaths due to the seasonal flu. Clearly, the swine flu is great for ratings and sells newspapers.
Driving more panic, some web sites have been proposing the possibility that the swine flu is the result of biological warfare. While this is possible, it is unlikely (and ineffective). A more likely concern is that that this flu came from the ultra crowded conditions of factory farms.
The swine flu epidemic from 1976 is a tale of caution. The epidemic killed one person, but the vaccination program killed 25 people, and gave hundreds of people a devastating neurological illness called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (something that can happen with current flu vaccines).
So I hope that you would agree that the swine flu “epidemic” of 2009 is not something to panic about. As for seasonal flu, remember that while it can be fatal for the elderly and immune compromised, for the rest of us it actually strengthens our immune system and actually prevents cancer and chronic illnesses later in life.
My next blog will be on how to prevent or heal from the flu (pig, bird, or otherwise). In the meantime, in order to prevent swine flu, you may want to refrain from doing this.
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