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The Most Powerful Virus is Fear Not Flu April 27, 2009

Filed under: The E.C.H.O. Foundation — dottys @ 7:12 pm
Tags: , ,
Thanks Sherri for sending this out.
GOOD ONE!!!
Dotty
*****************************
My favorite quote:
“In 1976 Gerald Ford, trying for election, ordered 40 million
vaccinations over a three to four month period of time, probably
leading to almost 1,000 cases of ascending paralysis from the hastily
made vaccine (Guillain Barre Syndrome) and driving most of the
vaccine makers out of business. We certainly don’t need a repeat of
this performance, in advance of any real worldwide threat.”

DR. MARC SIEGEL: The Most Powerful Virus Is Fear Not Flu
http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/04/25/dr-marc-siegel-the-most-powerful-virus-is-fear-not-flu/

With a new swine flu strain spreading among close to 1,000 people in
Mexico and at least eight in the U.S., and with 61 reported deaths in
Mexico, the most powerful virus pushing out its tentacles is not flu
but fear. We are afraid of what we don’t know and what we don’t understand.

We hear about an unseen killer and we worry that we will be next. The
best antidote for this kind of fear is the facts.

So let me take on the fear-laden terms. The first is pandemic. A
pandemic means a new flu virus infecting people in several areas of
the world at the same time. It can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Everyone knows about the 1918 Blue Death that killed over 50 million
people worldwide, but how many people realize that the last pandemic,
in 1968, ameliorated by vaccines, antibiotics, and public health
measures, killed only 32,000 in the U.S. and 700,000 worldwide, less
than many yearly outbreaks.

The current swine flu outbreak is not a pandemic, as the outbreak is
confined mainly to Mexico, but if it does become one, it is far more
likely to be the 1968 variety because of modern public health
measures and because we have been exposed to several parts of this
virus before and have an immune memory to it.

Precautions like isolating sick people and use of the anti-virals
Tamiflu and Relenza in order to decrease severity are wise precautions.

Wise too is closing schools in Mexico to prevent spread
(schoolchildren are notorious flu spreaders), provided that this
measure doesn’t send the world the wrong message that a massive
pandemic is in the offing.

The second scare term is the pig itself. Pigs scare us. They are
filthy noisy creatures. They are also loaded with flu viruses. This
strain occurred because a bird virus mixed with at least one human
virus and two pig viruses. Flus are changing all the time so a new strain
isn’t really a surprise.

We also need to be cautioned by the lessons of history. Back in 1976
an emerging swine flu virus appeared to be responsible for the death
of a military recruit at Fort Dix (this later turned out to be
erroneous), sparking a massive public hysteria fueled by Center for
Disease Control press conferences.

I was reminded of this Friday when the CDC again spread fear about an
emerging swine flu. We need to remember that fear causes people to
take less precautions, but fighting contagions requires more precautions.

In 1976 Gerald Ford, trying for election, ordered 40 million
vaccinations over a three to four month period of time, probably
leading to almost 1,000 cases of ascending paralysis from the hastily
made vaccine (Guillain Barre Syndrome) and driving most of the
vaccine makers out of business. We certainly don’t need a repeat of
this performance, in advance of any real worldwide threat.

Thirdly, we are also afraid because this disease is emerging in
Mexico, a foreign land to the south over which we have no control.
But fear of an unknown land doesn’t automatically translate to an
American health risk. We are wise to have our scientists and public
health officials tracking the outbreak, but we are not wise to
anticipate the worst.

Like all flus, this one causes great fatigue, muscle aches, fevers,
sore throat, nasal congestion, stomach upset, but is generally
curable. The greatest risk is from secondary infections like
pneumonia or ear infections, especially in the chronically ill. But
in the U.S., if it spreads here, these problems are much more easily
treated than in rural
Mexico.

We should be comforted by the time of the year. This is the end of
the flu season, not the beginning. Flu viruses thrive in the low
humidity of winter, not summer. It is very likely that this outbreak
will die out automatically as the summer comes. It will remain
necessary to track it because it could reappear in the fall, but it
is very unlikely that it will erupt into a pandemic this summer.

I am glad that this outbreak is a swine rather than a bird flu, not
because pig viruses are intrinsically safer than bird viruses, but
because the greater lesson to guide us here comes from the 1976 pig
hysteria, rather than from the 1918 bird flu plague.

Marc Siegel MD, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone
Medical Center, is a FOX News Medical Contributor. He is the author
of “Bird Flu; Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic”,
and “False Alarm; the Truth About the Epidemic of Fear”

*******************************************************
E.C.H.O.
Educating on Children’s Health Options
www.TheEchoFoundation.com
ECHO the truth.
Be a voice for your child
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