we got this under control

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this swine is in danger of contracting the flu from the filthy humanJust a quick note: without getting too much into details, I can assure you we're on top of this "swine flu" thing.

When I was in Atlanta this January I wasn't there just to visit health and disease museums - it was a work trip where I saw good things, like a multi-story disease incident command center that constantly monitors every single disease outbreak in the world 24/7, among other things. We're not a bunch of nepotistic suit and tie losers doing a heckuva job like "Brownie" anymore. We've got a big team workin' on this and we got this, so relax.

What troubles me is how poorly the media is relaying truly important information, choosing instead to publish conjecture, speculation, controversy and conspiracy. The real news is somewhere in the middle of the article, right about where you stopped reading.

Let me get some important points across, to counter the stupid shit I've read in the mainstream and social media sources:

  • This isn't a swine flu, it's a North American human flu H1N1.
  • For some perspective, about 35,000 people die of the flu every year in the U.S.
  • You can't get this flu from eating pork, chicken or people.
You can get it from filthy human habits, like coming to work sick, not covering your mouth when you cough, and not washing your hands. If you feel achey, tired and feverish, stay home. If you suspect your workaholic coworkers are sick and will inevitably come to work to show what a trooper they are for a good attendance record, stay home.


That's what I'm really worried about - legions of workaholic American troopers - particularly in the DC workaholic culture - who come to work and spread disease. Ever since the avian influenza scare, I've seen no change in American habits to improve hand washing practices, staying home when you're sick, or covering your mouth when you cough. I guess it's going to take an outbreak and mortalities to teach those lessons again.

I can tell you this administration is genuinely concerned about this situation and people are mobilized in preparation for an event, but that doesn't mean it's time to panic. Keep in mind the mainstream media sucks these days with a greater priority to sell ad space, and less of a priority to relay truly important life-saving information, so moderate your daily U.S. media intake (BBC is good though), take what you do read with a grain of salt because a lot of it is bullshit and spin, and just relax cuz we've got this. Here are some useful links to resources without the hype:

Swine Flu:
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm

Swine and Human Cases of Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Frequently Asked Questions:
http://www.usda.gov/2009/04/0131.xml

INFLUENZA: Pigs, People and Public Health (PDF):
http://www.pork.org/PorkScience/Documents/PUBLICHEALTH%20influenza.pdf

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12 Comments

Mel said:

Good resources. I shall disseminate.

Mel said:

And how'd you get that pic of me and my ex?

SeanMT said:

Good advice, I'm right with you on the US media. Boingboing.net, in addition to the rest of their fantastic content, has been running many great articles giving reasonable facts and advising calm over panic. I'm avoiding mainstream media, I have enough to worry about with reality, I don't need fantasy worries in addition, and neither do the rest of us.

Keep up the good work Jimbo, scrub those piggies along with those hands, and don't eat people (that's just good sense at all times I think).

MarcB said:

i agree, i'm glad someone mentioned something actually because even over here in Australia the media are using everything and anything they can find to sell a story... especially this swine flu :O

haha

DougT said:

Jimbo, I was thinking of you and your work when this story broke. Thanks for providing such a good, clear perspective on the issue. The 35,000 flu deaths each year is a statistic I trot out from time to time in relation to West Nile Virus (that seems so 2005 at the moment). I did not know prior to your post that this wasn't really a swine flu. It's pretty reassuring that this isn't a case of jumping a species barrier. Do you have any idea how the notion that this is a swine flu got started?

Curtis said:

Thanks for this, Jimbo. Of all the broken US systems, I do think we've got a pretty good public health system. It starts in hospital sentinel hospital labs like mine where we are often the first encounter with a new disease threat and works up through the county and State health departments up to the CDC. Most don't realize the continued education and training that we rigorously undergo.

It's a shame the media doesn't educate as is their duty but rather sensationalize to be seen as getting the "big story".

jimbo Author Profile Page said:

This flu _could_ have come from pigs, it could have come from birds, it could have come from humans. But that doesn't really matter as it's going through human populations at this moment. Leave the epidemiology and study of the outbreak to the epidemiologists. Swine and avian populations are unaffected at this time. It also doesn't really matter where it came from, what country it came from, or if Elian Gonzalez or whoever got it first. The issue to deal with now is to inform the public on how to lower mortalities and how you can stay healthy. All the rest is just very loud and distracting background noise.

JT said:

Uh...yeah..thanks for the reassurance. (Then again, you're also someone who thinks geeky Eric Leven is woofy).

Jim (The Canuck One) said:

Thanks. My hubby and I are going to NYC next week. Frankly, I'm more worried some goons ... um... I mean... some TSA personnel are not going to like my looks than I am about catching anything.

Like any good Canadian, we'll have alcohol hand-wash. We'll even share if someone needs some -- we're JUST that gosh-darn NICE, eh?

Now, if you could be hired to come to my place of work and bitch-slap the "I'm not that sick, it's just something the kids brought home from school" crowd, I'd appreciate knowing your rates.

OmG! I can't believe someone else actually understands the reality of whats going on. The "sensational" reporting is retarded at best.

Kudos Jimbo!

kiri said:

Personally I'm stocking up on face masks and hand sanitizer and not leaving the house - EVER!
SWINE FLU _ RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

People that go to work sick are &%$^heads! Companies need to start installing those thermal scanners they use in some asian airports and lock out fevered sickies. But seriously until I start seeing more scary numbers, this seems no more heinous than a normal flu.

Ohio Tom said:

Is it sensational reporting or is a super bug among us? When governments actually agree and cooperate, when they actually tell us what's happening rather than say "go shopping," it scares the hell out of me.

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