Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poke The Pig

I'm no doctor, but...

Well, I suppose I am, but I'm no expert in infectious disease or public health. So this is me just being some guy.

As we get more and more inundated with swine flu numbers, it's worth noting (although I don't know in what context to put it) that influenza of the non-swine variety kills about 36,000 Americans annually. This is not to say that the danger of swine flu is being exaggerated. People much more knowledgeable than I are concerned, and properly so. Steps need to be taken. But I'm guessing that there'll be a widespread sense of panic well before the numbers approach anything near the "background" mortality that already exists with essentially no comment. I think some of the worry is based on not knowing exactly how lethal is this strain; and the fact that vaccines haven't been developed for it.

Along that line, ol' Joe Biden got into trouble for saying he's telling his family to avoid planes and trains. Immediate outrage from the travel industry; speedy "correction" from the White House. Well, heck, wasn't he right? If you want to avoid contracting or spreading an airborne infectious disease, don't you want to stay out of crowded and confined spaces?

It illustrates the difficulty in dealing with such a thing. Effective measures (again: speaking from no particular authority) to prevent an epidemic involve actions which have complex and, in economic terms, negative consequences: close schools, stay home from work, avoid public places. Right in the middle of trying to get the economy going. If you impose those things, and there's no epidemic, some will say "good job," while others scream (as they are about Joe) "overreaction." What's a leader to do?

Damned if I know.


Frank Drackman said...

Biden is Obama's best insurance policy...

Anonymous said...

But seriously Sid, the vast majority of influenza deaths in this country are over 65, and already of very low health. The flu just pushes them over the edge like we used to hear so much of pneumonia killing those with AIDS. Whereas this strain of flu seems to be seriously affecting people who are not already immunocompromised. To me anyway, it does seem to be concerning.

Some time back I worked for a bank based in Hong Kong but with a presence around the world. The bank brought a physician to all of our locations who examined employees and our families, and provided a free course of Tamiflu to keep on hand in case of pandemic. This is when avian flu was the big scare. I wish I had participated (although I'm sure the drug would have expired by now).


Anonymous said...

Why worry about it, only republicans can get "Swine Flu", right?

Sid Schwab said...

Mike: I think that's the essential question: is this strain more deadly than others? In Mexico it seems as if it might be, but so far it hasn't looked like that elsewhere. I've seen a couple of articles indicating investigations into if it's so, and if so, why.

Anonymous said...

If Biden was right, why did the WH backpedal? And why did Gibbs have to explain, "here's what Biden wanted to say"?

Biden is an utter fool. And BO picked him.

Anonymous said...

An utter fool wiped the floor with snowbilly Sarah. What does that make her?


Anonymous said...

For that matter McBushie picked her. What does that make him?


Frank Drackman said...

F y'all, O-bama makes Stuttering John look like effin Einstein.

Beer Bottle said...

"An utter fool wiped the floor with snowbilly Sarah."

Nice to see that regions determine so much for you.

Did this happen when Biden misquoted the Constitution, when he didn't understand the job of VP, or when he said Hezbollah was kicked out of Lebannon?

Too bad he didn't just plagiarize his answers--it's worked for him in the past.

But remember--he's just a heartbeat away, thanks to the Gifted One.

Anonymous said...

Let me make this real clear for you BB.

Region has nothing to do with it. Stupidity has no borders. She(and her supporters)are just plain stupid wherever they go.

Who was it that said "They’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes."

Clue: she lives in Alaska.

1. An utter fool wiped the floor with snowbilly Sarah. What does that make her?

2. For that matter McBushie picked her. What does that make him?

3. You and A Nony Mouse don't understand this, so you evade the point by calling Obama "BO" and sniggering about "Nigger Jim."

So what does that make the two of you?

Right... Racist,and, dumb as dirt!

Anonymous said...

Like you I am no doctor. I do know that the sickest time in my life was the kindergarten years of my four sons. They brought home the latest bugs. I also know they didn't close the schools my sons attended when they were bringing home these bugs. As far as I know no US citizen died from the bugs then nor from the current bug. So why close Odyssey when there is a teaching moment at hand about personal hygiene. So do you support closing a school based on the hysteria created by the "drive-by" media and information overload? Or is there another alternative? I do not have the facts on your local school closing so it would be conjecture on my part as to why they closed it. But I do think the closing of schools throughout the country is probably an overreaction.

Sid Schwab said...

Anonymous: If you are no doctor, as I am no doctor, then you are a doctor...

You refer to "bugs," which covers a lot of territory. Here, we're talking specifically about influenza, of the H1N1 strain. As I stated, 36000 Americans die of influenza every year, so, depending on what "bugs" your kids had, it's possible you are wrong about people not dying from them.

I assume -- without knowing -- that the concern about the H1N1 strain is that in Mexico an unusually high percentage of people seemed to be dying with it. With that in mind, it would seem proper to begin by erring on the side of extreme caution. I'm not aware of the specifics of the Odyssey closing: I'd assume it was done on the recommendation of public health authorities, as has been the case elsewhere. I don't think closing a school for a specified time precludes "teaching moments" when it resumes.

Is it over-reaction? If it turns out to be, only in retrospect, then it isn't; nor could it be said that it wouldn't have been worse had various precautions not been taken. So far, I don't think we know one way or the other. To reiterate the point of the post, it is, to some extent, a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I do feel pretty sure, however, that it's not something ginned up to advance a radical agenda.

Sid Schwab said...

Sam: I know dirt; I have worked with dirt; in our garden, dirt is a friend of mine. In comparing it to some of my commenters, you do dirt a great dishonor.

Anonymous said...

It was not I who dishonored your dirt.

--Sam Spade

Anonymous said...

It was me that thoughtlessly defamed dirt Sid - your point is well taken.

I was searching for something descriptive of the level of intelligence on offer by the racist/fascist snigger boys and Nony Mouses that troll here from time to time.

I thought of "Dumb as Pond Scum", "Dumb as a Manure Lake", etc. but upon reflection all of those things are part of the natural order and serve some purpose, however humble.

They don't serve any useful purpose, unless they are here to serve as a horrible example.

The words I need will have to express something of the feeling I get when I see a roach in a garbage can or a republican in a voting booth.

I'll work on it.


Sid Schwab said...

Well, apologies are in order both to Sam and Eugene. Careless of me. I'll go eat a little dirt. No pigs in sight, so it should be safe.

Ron Woldeit said...

So they close the schools because someone has the flu. Now there is a mad scramble to seat the displaced school children in day care. Where they will gather in smaller clusters. Now what problem were they trying to solve? That's right the spread of the H1N1. You don't want those children in close contact in a school setting and have the school system tainted with the spread. It is better to have a day care center blamed for spreading it around. Sounds like the use of a cluster bomb to me.

Hope you had a great fantastic gorgeous May Day!

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