Some people, mostly the media, are freaking out about this swine flu thing. It seems to lead every news story with words like, “death”.
No one wants to go to Mexico anymore or be around anyone who looks remotely Hispanic and/or looks tanned enough to have perhaps been to Mexico recently. Mexican produce languishes on grocery store shelves.
So, for those who are afraid or confused, I thought a little perspective would be helpful.
Approximately 217,000 people die in Canada every year. The largest percentage of these deaths (approximately 130,000) are from diseases of the circulatory system and cancer.
- 3,100 are because of motor vehicle accidents
- 5700 are because of other accidents and injuries
- 3,700 are because of suicides
- 8,000 are because of pneumonia and seasonal flu
- 550 are homicides
Back in 2002/2003 we had the SARS almost-pandemic. Worldwide, 774 people died.
As of 6:00 am this morning 21 countries have reported 1124 cases of H1N1; 26 have died from complications of this virus – worldwide.
The normal every-day flu comes from 3 different strains of virus – A, B and C (no one every said scientists were creative). The annual flu vaccines are for types A & B, the most common.
Nevertheless this seasonal flu causes severe illness in 3 to 5 million people every year across the world and kills between 250,000 and 500,000. Children under 2, adults over 65 and people with medical conditions like chronic heart, lung, kidney, liver, blood or metabolic diseases (such as diabetes), or weakened immune systems are at risk for becoming very ill from the flu. The rest of us will have a crappy few days, lose a few pounds and move on with our lives.
With a little common sense and general preventive measures you can prevent infection of not only H1N1, but most other viruses:
- Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and have fever and cough;
- Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often;
- Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.
If you do start to feel ill (fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose, maybe even vomiting or diarrhoea), go see your doctor for a diagnosis and he/she will give you an antiviral drug like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) to make you all better.
OK? Now stop panicking everybody. Sheesh.