Stop the flu panic

Published 9:39 pm Monday, May 4, 2009

It amuses me — and annoys me — when people panic needlessly.

Take the whole Y2K debacle. If you bought into the media hype, you believed that all the money in the bank would disappear, planes would fall out of the sky and aliens would invade Planet Earth at precisely midnight on Jan. 1, 2000.

Guess what? Nothing happened, except that a bunch of computer programmers gained employment for a few precious months updating software for the switch.


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Now comes everybody’s favorite topic — swine flu. Or, to avoid offending pigs everywhere, Influenza A(H1N1). I think the reason people are so scared is that it sounds like a science fiction flick — one minute, you’re sniffling; the next, you’re oinking.

Apparently, about a month ago, doctors and scientist types along the U.S./Mexico border started noticing an uptick in cases of this dreaded (and sometimes deadly) disease. Now that it has spread to 21 nations, it has infected a frightening 1,085 people.

That’s right, folks — 1,085. Out of SIX BILLION people on the planet.

In other words, you almost have a better shot at hitting the lottery than at catching swine flu, even if you head to Chesapeake Square Mall and lick every door handle in the building.

Yes, yes, I realize that a big part of the problem is the media. The 24-hour news cycle is clinging to swine flu for the better part of all 24 hours, stopping the incessant coverage only occasionally to report on the media darling in the White House. Obama must be jealous.

However, also not helping matters are the people crowding emergency rooms because they sneezed, because they coughed, because they ate pork and (gasp!) felt perfectly fine afterwards. Here’s a tip, people — there’s a reason it’s not called the “I crave attention room.” The emergency room is for emergencies only.

Yes, indeed, people have died from swine flu. But more people die in car accidents every single day than have caught swine flu so far. And trust me, bad driving is very contagious. Just look at Route 58 in Suffolk on any given day.

If you’re still worried, just make sure to follow these special precautions to avoid spreading swine flu: Wash your hands frequently. Cover your cough and sneeze. Stay home if you’re sick.

In other words, practice good hygiene and common courtesy. That should be simple enough.