Ending the flu panic

Ending the flu panic

Summary: The Chinese may just be getting some of their own back. The 2003 SARS outbreak was mostly confined to China and we quickly imposed a quarantine on them. No one died here and only 7% of Chiense victims died. One is too many, but quick action saved lives.

SHARE:
TOPICS: China, Health
5

The panic over H1Ni "swine" flu has been a good exercise. Time to stand down now.

Everyone got to practice what they would do in an emergency. We have a lot of good data about what works, and what doesn't. (Picture of April 27 Newsday front page from Gawker review of the 1976 swine flu.)

The medical teams get pretty high marks but we still have some work to do on communication. Media performance, worldwide, was poor.

We can start that work now, because as hard as it can be to make people take a new flu bug seriously, it can be even harder to make them stop panicking after the emergency is over.

In terms of emergency, this one is over. The present flu strain is no worse than any typical seasonal flu. If you happen to get it bed rest and liquids should take care of it. See your doctor and they might prescribe an anti-viral. Don't cough on people.

Now, about the panic. I am due to head for China in a little over two weeks, so this is important. Quarantining me because I'm American won't help, although I admit the hotels being used so far for quarantine are very nice.

The Chinese may just be getting some of their own back. The 2003 SARS outbreak was mostly confined to China and we quickly imposed a quarantine on them. No one died here and only 7% of Chiense victims died. One is too many, but quick action saved lives.

Back in this country, closing schools because someone may have gotten flu is looking to be increasingly silly. Not only does it risk infecting whole families, but it sets a very bad example to other countries, which are already panicked enough.

The best example is being set at the highest levels of the U.S. government. Joe Biden, who was telling us all to avoid public transportation last week? The other day he was on Amtrak again.

So how do we get everyone to calm down, to chill, and to go back to business as usual? Until the next time...

Topics: China, Health

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

5 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Thank you Dana. (NT)

    .
    kozmcrae
  • What do you mean?

    When you say of closing schools, "not only does it risk infecting whole families", what do you mean? It sounds like you are saying that sending sick kids to school reduces the household's exposure. Of course, it increases exposure of everyone else. So could you please clarify your remark? Thanks.
    bmgoodman
    • As opposed to putting them in the hospital

      If the flu is that bad a thing, put the kid in
      the hospital. That isolates them pretty
      completely. Sending them home merely gives
      everyone there the flu, just as sending them to
      school gives everyone there the flu.

      If it's not that bad, what are we panicked
      about?
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • RE: Ending the flu panic

    Catching a weaker strain of this flu might save your life in the future. If you are healthy maybe you should try to catch it.
    zmud
  • Those things never touch me.

    Hi there,

    A little over twenty years ago, I had a job as a change person, for slot machine customers in a casino in Reno, Nevada. The first year I worked there, I was sick with a cold, or the flu, almost constantly as I was exposed to the large numbers of tourists that came through the casino every day.

    After that, it was over twenty years before another cold, or flu, managed to finally invade my nearly impervious immune system, just a year or so ago, making me barely sick for only a very short time.

    There just aren't many of those flu bugs, or colds germs, that can still get through the "vaccination by tourist traffic contact" immunity, that I have developed from being sick so much for that first year. 8-)

    Later, Ray Parrish
    crp@...