Archive for Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swine flu might not be what’s really on our minds

October 8, 2009

In recent weeks there's been a paranoia in the office that I, too, have shared. Everyone seems to be so on edge about the swine flu that many of us have believed we were catching it with the slightest sniffle, scratchy throat or body ache.

The fear would get fed when a desk was suddenly empty for a few days, and then filled by someone looking frail and ashen with fresh horror stories to share (And because the News Center, while huge, seems as effective as a opera house at transmitting sound, I couldn't avoid hearing the tales).

There were also ominous notices posted about, identifying flu symptoms and when and how long people should stay home should they come down with the flu. What’s more was media coverage compounded in my case by a steady stream of emails touching on all aspects of the supposed pandemic.

I haven't had a knockdown bout with the flu since the Y2K version of 2000, which I first noticed appropriately on New Year's Eve and made the last New Year's Party I ever attended somewhat more miserable than it actually was. But I went home at least two recent nights resigned to waking the next morning with the full-fledged flu. Thankfully, nothing came of it and I remain healthy after my fashion.

I had an added reason to be worried. I recently spent three days in a vehicle traveling from the Puget Sound to Kansas with a sneezing, coughing, miserable, cold or flu sufferer. No way, I assumed, would a germ or virus not find its way to my lungs or bloodstream and make me pay for being more interested in the wondrous mountain scenery than the suffering of my mate.

Now that the H1N1 flu vaccine has started to arrive, there seems to have been a slight lift in the office hysteria.

I’m beginning to relax and notice how the whole swine flu phenomenon so closely mirrors recession concerns. There, too, we are seemingly helpless to stem the stubborn drain of business and job loss. Despite the stimulus vaccine, desks or work stations everywhere are suddenly empty and horror tales abound. (Things like this strike me, and I look on the Internet to find they’ve already been explored by others. The Web makes it increasingly difficult to claim an original thought.)

I’m not saying H1N1 wouldn’t exist without the deep recession but it is interesting the faux flu of 1974 accompanied economic turmoil. I remember President Gerald Ford for two things: Whip Inflation Now buttons and mobilizing a flu vaccine against a swine flu outbreak that never materialized.

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