With the threat of pandemic flu outbreak, phrases take on meaning

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Again, I love famous phrases that mean something and am delighted when I can write stories to prove, or to bring more meaning, to them. Two highlighted news articles on TV stations last weekend brought four more out of the closet.

First, it was the possibility of the threat of terrorists bringing destruction to sporting events, now it is the possibility of a bird flu pandemic and in the future, the possibility of flooding cities because of global warming. These possibilities make me think of the phrase, &uot;If it ain’t one, thing it’s another.&uot;

I asked a friend if she was worried about the bird flu, and she told me that she would rather not talk about it, that whatever is going to happen is going to happen. This made me think of phrase number two, &uot;What you don’t know, won’t hurt you.


Email newsletter signup

However, as I watched a series of segments on WVEC Channel 13 News called, Fears, Facts and Fiction About The Bird Flu, with anchormen Robin Roberts and Charles Gibson, I realized that some things that you don’t know about this flu could hurt you.

Gibson said the government issued a chilling recommendation last weekend telling Americans to start stockpiling water and powdered milk as the prospect of this deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the U.S.

Mike Levitt, chief of the Department of Health and Human Services, put a firmer emphasis on this statement. To prove just how serious Americans are taking this flu threat, last Friday Levitt met in Richmond with health officials, business owners, and local government people from all 50 states to conduct a Bird Flu Summit. That summit probably included some of the same information given on the Channel 13 series that is printed here in part.

Infected birds migrating from Asia are scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in a few months. This flu is not like the ordinary flu, with a runny nose or upset stomach, but much more complicated, because it attacks the lungs. And when the body tries to fight back, the body destroys its own lungs.

According to the report, the Honolulu Airport is one front-line defense against a possible pandemic developing in the United States. The airport hosts more than two million international passengers a year from a highly infected bird-flu Asia and is equipped with a quarantine room that can hold up to 400 people.

If a passenger from a flight coming into this airport looks sick, the following procedure will take place. That plane will be guided to a special gate, and a doctor from the Center for Disease Control will go aboard, get them and escort them to an area with a special ventilated center separate from the rest of the airport. They will then be taken by ambulance to the hospital and tested for the bird flu. This processing will take six hours. If they have it, the passengers on the plane will be sent to the quarantine room for six days to see if they developed the symptoms as the flu is usually infectious before symptoms occur.

Another guest on the show, Darlene Washington, director of preparedness at the American Red Cross, named many items which she said should always be in the home in the case of any major disaster or a flu pandemic. They are non-perishable foods and ones that don’t’ have to be refrigerated or cooked. Also included should be toiletries, baby food and formula and pet food for your pets.

Items for cleaning and cleanup should be included, such as garbage bags and bleach. You should store one gallon of water per household member for at least 10 days. The government doesn’t want you to panic; it just wants you to be like Boy Scouts and perform phrase number three, &uot;Always Be Prepared.&uot;

The good news is officials stated that this flu is not easily transmitted to humans and at the present time is not a significant threat.

To protect yourself against the normal flu, you should get a flu shot every year, cover coughs and sneezes with tissue and throw tissue away, wash hands frequently and if sick, stay home until you are fever free for 24 hours.

As for global warming, that’s another big story at another time. But my advice now, after you have read about this latest potential disaster, brings up phrase number four, &uot;Live life to the fullest today, because tomorrow is not promised.&uot;

Oh yes, while you are living that life, be sure to stay far away from Rave parties.

Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and regular contributor to this page.