Monday, May 11, 2009
OMG, It's Swine Flu!
Flu season comes along every year. Every year, the press tells us that this is a killer flu. When I was a kid, I remember the warnings about the Hong Kong flu. Now, we worry about Bird Flu and Swine Flu.
There are three kinds of flu, Type A, Type B and Type C. Type C is the mildest, type A the strongest. The flu vaccine you can get, either free if you belong to an HMO like Kaiser or for a reasonable price otherwise, protects you from two Type A influenzas and one Type B.
Flu isn't a joke. About 36,000 people die from the flu each year, mostly small children, the aged and the infirm. The killer influenza of 1918, called the Spanish flu, was a Type A flu, a strain of the H1N1 virus, as is swine flu. Millions died all over the world that year. One of the Type A strains the vaccine protects against is H1N1.
Get vaccinated. Make sure kids and seniors get vaccinated. Because of widespread availability of vaccine, influenza epidemics with millions dead are things of the past, like fear of polio, especially in the developed world. Don't be complacent, but don't be panicked. Flu isn't the apocalyptic terror it was 90 years ago.