A few years ago, SARS was the big health news. Now it’s swine flu. Excuse me, H1N1 flu. Whatever they want us to call it, I hope that it’s a mountain that turns into a molehill. I don’t blame my fellow journalists for covering this so closely; it’s big news. It might even become bigger news. And I’d rather know as much as possible than be ignorant. But I do hope it ends up being not as big a deal as it is now.
I am definitely monitoring the situation, as you’d expect from someone who has covered health care off and on for more than a dozen years. I heard on the radio this morning that they’ve found a case of swine flu as far away as Denmark. The World Health Organization has confirmed that cases have been diagnosed in 11 countries as of earlier today. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are keeping an updated list of confirmed cases in each state; so far, New York tops the list.
But for now, I’m mostly just keeping an eye on what’s happening in my neck of the woods. Two schools here in Nashville have closed down because they had a student or students who were suspected of contracting the virus: Harding Academy and Montgomery Bell Academy. I probably wouldn’t even be that worried yet about that if both those schools weren’t located near us…or have students with siblings at my son’s preschool or who attend our church.
On the one hand, hundreds of people die each year from the regular non-swine flu flu, and you don’t everyone getting all worked up about it. And the child in Brownsville, Texas, who died of swine flu had both underlying medical issues and had recently been in Mexico. But on the other hand, my husband, who is a physician, noted that most of us have no residual immuno-memory (I think I made that word up) of the swine flu because we’ve never been exposed to it, so we don’t have any residual protection against it.
So, I’m not panicking yet. I’m not convinced this is going to be a terrible global pandemic yet. But I think I will swing by Target and pick up some more hand sanitizer this afternoon, just in case. It never hurts to be as prepared as possible.