It would be so easy to get all riled up about swine flu, especially if you listened to some of the folks at my B2B meeting this morning (we also got an earful about how the pharmaceutical industry is killing us all…a little extreme, I think, but that’s another blog entry), but look, more people have measles right now than have swine flu. Yes, it’s spreading, yes, people in Mexico have died, and no, I do not want to catch it. But I think the level of hysteria is perhaps a little high – we’re nowhere near an epidemic and even the outbreaks are very localized at this point.
The last time we visited the Chicken Store in Key West (it’s gone now, sadly), the woman there told us one of the issues people had with the wild Key West chickens was Bird Flu…local residents wanted the chickens rounded up and slaughtered or relocated, but not left roaming the streets like they had done for generations. I have looked and looked and am unable to find a single case of a human contracting flu (bird or otherwise) from Key West chickens, and it makes me sad that eventually all the Key West chickens will be re-homed elsewhere, Duval Street will be taken over by chain stores, and Key West will be just another tourist trap…partially because of flu hysteria.
Remember the SARS hysteria? 45,000 surgical masks (which were not supposed to be effective in stopping the spread of SARS) sold in SCOTLAND! SARS killed, what, like 500 people in the months that the magazines were picturing people in surgical masks with SARS on them…but 5000 women every year die in Latin America due to illegal abortions and no one’s jumping up and down about that.
I don’t mean that Swine Flu will not be a serious threat, I don’t mean that Avian Flu will never be an issue that we’ll have to deal with, and I don’t mean that the pharmaceutical industry operates with our best interests at heart. I do mean that washing our hands is an effective (and inexpensive!) way to prevent the spread of disease, and I do mean that we shouldn’t slaughter chickens and other pets when a case of bird to human flu transmission occurs, and I do mean that when people slam the pharmaceutical companies, I think about how many of our parents and grandparents would have died without the proper use of antibiotics. KEY WORDS: PROPER USE.
Rant mode off. Sorry about that.