News about the possibility of a pandemic flu has thrown many people into
a panic. The swine flu outbreak has already killed more than 150 people
in Mexico, and more and more cases are being diagnosed each day. The World
Health Organization raised the influenza pandemic alert level to phase
4, indicating human-to-human transmission of the virus. Phase 5 indicates
the beginning of the pandemic phase and widespread human infection. As
of 11am Eastern Time, there were 64 confirmed cases of the swine flu in
the United States: 10 in California, 45 in New York City, 6 in Texas,
2 in Kansas, and 1 in Ohio. When I first heard that schools in Mexico
were closed, I thought they must mean that schools in particular regions
or cities were closed, but no, schools in the entire country are closed.
That is how serious this flu could be.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has discovered that
this new strain of flu, to which humans apparently have no immunity against,
has shown some reaction to two prescription antiviral drugs: oseltamivir
and zanamivir. This is certainly hopeful news, and we can only hope that
new medical discoveries are made quickly and in time to prevent a disastrous
In the meantime, authorities suggest washing your hands frequently and
thoroughly. Avoid close contact with those exhibiting symptoms of illness,
such as sneezing or coughing. Masks are only really necessary in population-dense
situations, and even then, respirators will provide better protection.
So what do you think? Is this all media hype, or are you concerned about
the possibility of a pandemic flu? Do you think hand washing and masks
will protect you?