I have a problem with swine flu. I’m tired of it. It’s not very good to hear about, think about or probably even contract. But lately America has had this obsession with swine flu. Or “whine flu,” as a clever sign I saw somebody wave with pride at Yao Ming in one of the Blazers’ playoff games.
I have a problem with swine flu. I’m tired of it. It’s not very good to hear about, think about or probably even contract. But lately America has had this obsession with swine flu. Or “whine flu,” as a clever sign I saw somebody wave with pride at Yao Ming in one of the Blazers’ playoff games. And that’s how I feel about swine flu. We should just stop worrying about it and whining about it.
The very utterance of swine flu strikes fear into people everywhere. Well, not really everywhere, just developed countries. This deadly pandemic is sweeping the globe leaving thousands dead. No, actually it’s not thousands; it’s not even hundreds. Outside of Mexico there have been five deaths as of Sunday. According to Global Health, a subsection of the advocacy group change.org, on average, 2.2 million children die of diarrhea a year. So why are we so afraid of swine flu?
I would hypothesize that it isn’t the same reason that 2.2 million children die from diarrhea. The reason so many people die is because of a lack of resources. In America and other developed countries citizens can rehydrate with relative ease, as opposed to many Third World countries where citizens struggle to survive. But in developed countries swine flu is more of a threat, as it is easily transferable, and that’s what scares us.
That being said, we don’t need to be scared. Believe it or not this is not the first time America has worked itself into a frenzy because of swine flu. In 1967 there was a swine flu outbreak at Fort Dix that caused the death of one soldier but infected hundreds in a very short period of time. Doctors realized that this outbreak could come back in the following year as a deadly global epidemic that would take thousands, possibly millions of lives. So doctors scrambled to create a vaccine. It ended up being a vaccine that inadvertently killed hundreds of people.
I’m not saying that the swine flu will or will not turn into an epidemic. I’m exclaiming that we need to not talk this disease up into something that it’s not. I doubt that we will trick ourselves into inoculating ourselves with a deadly vaccine. But it is likely that we are taking away from things that really matter.
For example, if we spent a lot of money to try to develop a vaccine, that’s money that could be spent on researching multiple other diseases that are going to kill multiple people in our society, and not just our society, but other societies as well. Media attention, financial backing and public awareness for swine flu, a contagion that statistically should barely be a blip on our radar, is now wasting money that could be used for things like cancer, HIV/AIDS or other diseases that are way more than blips on our radar.
Don’t misunderstand me: When the pork industry pushed for the disease’s name to be changed because people thought that eating pork increased their chances of contracting the flu, I was flabbergasted that people were willing to make such a decision with so little knowledge.
Ultimately, people need not get worked up about this disease, and should do to a little research if they are irrationally scared. It will save a lot of grief.