03 May 2009

Everybody Chill

I find it rather amusing everybody seems to be going crazy in fear over the swine flu, especially considering that two weeks ago, nobody had ever even heard of it.

Not to make fun of a deadly illness, which I know is no laughing matter, but health and government officials seem to get pleasure out of perpetuating this wave of fear. Stay in your homes. Don't go out. Wear a face mask if you do even though we're not really sure how effective face masks are at protecting you from this (did nobody thing that this was a great waste of energy, money, and paper?) Look at this picture from Getty Images. It's laughable.

And then, hardly a week after this deadly pandemic is on the loose and spreading internationally in a lock-up-your-children manner, Mexican officials announce that there weren't 176 deaths from the swine flu as originally recorded, but closer to 101 deaths instead. This isn't like an official accidentally counting the same person twice. Discrepancies like this remind me of a Monty Python skit. "I'm not dead! I don't want to go on the cart! I feel happyyyyy!"

Including the 23-month-old from Texas, Saturday's total death count was 102 people. It's a lot, I'll admit. But all this attention to swine flu is taking away from some of the bigger problems in Mexico and along the border, like drug violence. Over 7,000 people have died from gun-related violence in the southwest U.S. and Mexico since 2007, which makes it a lot more deadly than the swine flu by my count. from which 28 people were killed this week alone in only one city. Interesting how few newspapers and TV and radio news shows picked that up as their lead story.

Two other details about the H1N1 strain of the flu have apparently missed the notice of the public. First of all, according to the CDC's influenza page, approximately 36,000 Americans die of complications to the flu every year. That dwarfs even Mexican drug cartels. Second of all, also according to the CDC flu page, the strain of flu that was predominate in the 2006-2007 flu season was--ding ding ding! You guessed it!--H1N1. We're all going mad about a strain of flu that we all survived less than five years ago.

Remember that the next time you overhear the people in line behind you at the grocery store freaking out as they stock up on chicken soup and fluids.