Flu fears call for calm, caution

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It’s difficult to call for calm when the World Health Organization is calling for caution and warning that a pandemic is could be “imminent.”

But calm and reason are what we need right now, as the swine flu virus continues to spread across the globe.

The virus, which has sickened thousands in Mexico and nearly 100 in the United States, is causing a mix of panic and fear across the world. From cruise ships cancelling travel to Mexico to countries banning travel to Mexico to residents wearing surgical masks (which offer little to no real protection against the transmission of the flu virus), millions are seeking some sense of control in the situation.

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In reality, the best control you can have is simple, common sense: wash your hands, often; cover your mouth if you cough; cover your nose if you sneeze; avoid going out in public if you feel sick or are running a fever; keep your child home from school if he or she is sick; avoid large crowds if you feel under the weather; and, again, wash your hands, especially after being anywhere where large groups of people have congregated (think grocery stores; schools; restaurants; etc.). And be informed: news media and the Center for Disease Control are working overtime to provide necessary information to the country. Local physicians, who always go above and beyond to treat their patients, are answering calls and doing their best to calm nerves and treat legitimate concerns.

Health officials have warned for years that we are due for another pandemic. Whether this swine flu will prove to be such a case or not remains to be seen. But we can learn from this experience and be reminded that diseases can spread, quickly and ferociously, in this global village we call home and all of us would be well-served to remain cautious and vigilant as we go throughout our day.