Sunday, October 09, 2005

WITHOUT INTERNET, I CAN DO A LOT MORE WORK

Count me as one of the many who love the Internet passionately. Yet, if I am honest, times (like this weekend) when I didn't have access were among my most productive. I simply accomplish more when I am not able to log on.

However, I am NOT about to detach myself from my addiction. It's too useful for keeping me up-to-date on events. Without a TV, I just don't have an easy way of keeping up on national events. In fact, the Internet is MORE useful in finding out what's going on than TV.

However, some of the reporting is just wrong, or even silly. Fox News has a headline - Scientists: 1918 Killer Spanish Flu Was a Bird Flu:
Scientists who re-created the 1918 Spanish flu say the killer virus was initially a bird flu that learned to infect people. Alarmingly, they find that today's H5N1 bird flu is starting to learn the same tricks.
NEWSFLASH: ALL FLUS ARE CARRIED BY BIRDS.

Dolt. For the uninitiated, all flu viruses are carried by birds. Usually, the carrier birds are unaffected by the viruses. The trouble starts when the birds land in Asia. You see, in Asia, it's common for the same farmers who raise birds (ducks, chickens, etc.) to also keep pigs. And that's where the trouble starts. The bird passes the virus to the pigs - they are the alternate hosts. In all this passing, the virus mutates. Quite a bit. Most of the time, the pig isn't affected very much. But, when it is, watch out. Pigs and humans will pass diseases back and forth, and what makes the pig sick, also makes the human sick. Because of the sheer number of viruses that birds carry, keeping them so close to an alternate host is crazy. But, also cultural. And, therefore, hard to eradicate.

I'm suspecting that the hype about the Killer Flu is overblown. What I've been reading about the 1918 flu seems to suggest that the virulence of it was a fluke, caused by:
  • many non-immune young people in a small, unsanitary space (due to the war)
  • rapid travel leading to sick people spreading the virus widely
  • farm boys, with little immunity to diseases of cities (which flu is), struck down quickly
  • overwhelming the scarce medical personnel
  • and, lastly, TB as a secondary problem - it was still a major problem in Europe and America at that time. A likely reason for the sudden collapse of victims would be another, chronic disease.

So, would flu be the major killer again? Well, it could, but, since we now have vaccines and treatments for pneumonia, and use oral and intravenous infusions before the situation gets critical, I doubt it.

If, however, you are worried, take the following steps:
  • Stay away from crowds
  • If you can, get a flu shot
  • If you have respiratory disease, also get a pneumonia shot
  • If you do become sick, drink fluids, rest, and take meds as prescribed by your doctor. Don't keep plugging away while sick. Quarantine patients from the rest of the family.
  • Most importantly, if you're sick, don't go to work/school. Stay home. You'll heal faster, and you won't make the rest of us sick.


Tags = Internet

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