An inconvenient truth: “Swine flu is less dangerous than regular flu.”

influenza_pandemic_masked_typist1By Jane Stillwater

After a friend of mine came down with a severe dose of some kind of terrible flu and I nursed him back to health, guess what happened next? Yeah, I got sick too. Really sick. “OMG, now I’ve got swine flu!” I whined — in between trips to the bathroom.

But in my more lucid moments, I managed to do some research on the subject (as we all know, Google is the poor man’s health insurance). Just how serious IS swine flu? I know that I am feeling like heck-warmed-over right now, but let’s put this thing into perspective. According to my friend Joe Thompson who loves sending me statistics, within one year in America over 61,000 people will die of pneumonia. One out of every 20 who contract pneumonia will die. And since January of this year alone, over 1,300 people have died from ordinary flu. But only one person has died from swine flu.

Great. Now we have put this so-called pandemic into perspective. But does that make me feel better? No. So I trudged off to the local ER to get treated for swine flu — or not. And they gave me a face mask as soon as I walked in the door. “Do you get many swine flu patients here?” I asked the triage nurse.

“Actually no,” he replied. “We get several people a day coming in with flu symptoms and we test them, but so far no one has tested positive.” There were only eight people in the waiting room and only two of us had been handed face masks. It’s hard to breathe with this on.

Then I sat around the waiting room for an hour and watched a History Channel segment on gangs. “It’s all about protecting the lucrative drug trade,” said the TV. “They’re going to do whatever they can to keep the money flowing in.” In case you might be wondering why swine flu is being hyped as this horrible death machine but pneumonia, a proven killer, is not? Could it be “all about protecting the lucrative drug trade” — and keeping the money flowing in at all costs?

Then I saw the doctor, described my symptoms to him and whimpered a bit more. He said to take Pepto Bismo, stay hydrated, eat healthy and wait it out.

“Flu is a virus then?”

“Yes. There have been several anti-virals developed to combat HIV that might be used to treat it, but mainly you just wait it out.” I didn’t know that. “And just in case you do have swine flu, remember that swine flu is milder than regular flu.” I definitely did not know that!

“But do I — or do I not — have the swine flu?” I asked. So the doctor pulled out some sterile swabs and took samples from my nose.

“We send them off to the State of California for testing and you’ll know the results in a few days. It might be five days because of the weekend.” If this is really a super-emergency, five days is a long time! Plus if this is really a national crisis, then why aren’t the state lab guys working on weekends? “And if you do have swine flu, they’ll come to your home and ask you who you have been in contact with and try to figure out how you got exposed to it. There is a seven-day incubation period so it would have to have been someone you have been around approximately seven days ago.”

Then I went home and drank plenty of liquids.

After undergoing this bit of involuntary research on flu symptoms, I have been forced to come to the painful conclusion that this whole swine flu pandemic scare is both a hype and a hoax — and that our media, our politicians and corporate America have failed the American public yet again in their efforts to scare us into giving them our money, just like what happened in Vietnam and Iraq, and in the savings and loan debacle and the AIG bailout.

America is a democracy ruled by us? What democracy? Apparently we are being played like a fiddle. Again.

PS: Regarding “protecting the lucrative drug trade,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, medical consultant on CNN and ABC News, has this to say:

“According to the World Health Organization’s Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response site; as of April 27 there are:

* 109 laboratory confirmed cases in U.S. — 1 death (reported by CDC as of April 30)
* 26 confirmed cases in Mexico — 7 deaths
* 6 confirmed cases in Canada — 0 deaths
* 1 confirmed case in Spain — 0 deaths

Additionally, nearly all suspected new cases have been reported as mild. Personally, I am highly skeptical. It simply doesn’t add up to a real pandemic. But it does raise serious questions about where this brand new, never before seen virus came from, especially since it cannot be contracted from eating pork products, and has never before been seen in pigs, and contains traits from the bird flu — and which, so far, only seems to respond to Tamiflu. Are we just that lucky, or… what?

“Your fear will make some people VERY rich in today’s crumbling economy. According to the Associated Press, at least one financial analyst estimates up to $388 million worth of Tamiflu sales in the near future — and that’s without a pandemic outbreak.

“More than half a dozen pharmaceutical companies, including Gilead Sciences Inc., Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and other companies with a stake in flu treatments and detection, have seen a rise in their shares in a matter of days, and will likely see revenue boosts if the swine flu outbreak continues to spread. As soon as Homeland Security declared a health emergency, 25 percent — about 12 million doses — of Tamiflu and Relenza treatment courses were released from the nation’s stockpile. However, beware that the declaration also allows unapproved tests and drugs to be administered to children. Many health and government officials are more than willing to take that chance with your life, and the life of your child. But are you?

“Remember, Tamiflu went through some rough times not too long ago, as the dangers of this drug came to light when, in 2007, the FDA finally began investigating some 1,800 adverse event reports related to the drug. Common side effects of Tamiflu include:

* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Diarrhea
* Headache
* Dizziness
* Fatigue
* Cough

All in all, the very symptoms you’re trying to avoid. More serious symptoms included convulsions, delirium or delusions, and 14 deaths in children and teens as a result of neuropsychiatric problems and brain infections (which led Japan to ban Tamiflu for children in 2007). And that’s for a drug that, when used as directed, only reduces the duration of influenza symptoms by 1 to 1 ½ days, according to the official data.

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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5 Comments on “An inconvenient truth: “Swine flu is less dangerous than regular flu.””

  1. Just for update purposes, there has been one confirmed death in Alberta, Canada attributed to the ‘swine flu’. In the future I expect a lot more deaths, not physical but economical. Here in Alberta the pork industry has taken a huge hit in the pocket books. Last week there was a reported case of a pig having the dreaded flu, traced back to a farmhand who had gone to Mexico then came back to work infected. The animal was quickly quarrentined and the other animals cleared but China and other Asian countries, which buy the majority of the product, banned anything going into their markets from Alberta. Three weeks ago, pork was selling at $31/kg and of Thursday it had fallen to $13/kg on the open market.

    I somewhat understand WHO’s over sensitivity to the matter of the ‘outbreak’, after all, they dropped the ball on the SARS outbreak in Toronto a few years back so they have to make up their credibility somehow. I understand the media’s need to sensationalize everything in order to make advertising dollars. What I don’t understand is why governments are making soundbite mixed messages to the public. It’s almost a daily occurance when you turn on the news to see some government official talking about it, giving the new stats of who may have it and where then saying, “but there’s nothing to be concerned about”. Why is it necessary to put a national spin on it to further confuse the public? Is it not enough to have the local medical authorities give their data to the area they are accountable to?

  2. While the numbers have gone up over the last week, it’s still a very small number when considered in terms of percentages. Mexico City has nearly nine million people. How could twenty-seven cases, fifty cases or even two hundred cases be considered epidemic in a city that contains millions? We’ve not been able to vacinate against influenza the way we have for typhoid, measles and chicken pox because the nature of the flu virus is to mutate. Viral infections may be treated with anti-biotics, but the virus itself does its time and moves on. The only real way to combat a virus is by building your immune system, and truthfully, this can’t be done by running to a doctor with every little thing. Most illnesses are better off if you follow a few old-fashioned remedies. Drink plenty of water and liquids. Eat healthy foods. Follow a regime of good diet and exercise. Rest before you begin to feel the effects of fatigue. Fatigue places your body at its lowest immunity levels. Oh, and another thing; toss the fear. Fear only causes anxiety and stress, which also lower the immunities. Be unafraid to fight back with your own natural resources.

  3. As of June 14, 2008, 83 deaths in children occurring during the 2007-08 season have been reported to CDC. That’s a lot more than the Mexico city reports and I don’t recall anyone yelling pandemic. And that was only kids, the CDC did not give a number for adults who were hurried along to meet their maker by influenza last year because there are so many other complicating factors in adults like old age, immune system problems and other diseases. The point is when we are being told things like this it is to scare us into compliance of some sort. We should be looking around for what is going on behind the curtian of the “Great and powerful OZ” at this point, rather than feeding into things by keeping our families in.

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