This weekend, while everyone was out enjoying the lovely (if a bit hot for April) weather, news was breaking all over the place about the new swine flu variant that has killed 20 and infected 1,000+ in Mexico. There are confirmed cases in the U.S., including several at a private school in Queens, but no deaths and only one hospitalization have occurred in this country. The flu virus, a mix of pig, bird, and human flu viruses, has the possibility to become a pandemic because it seems to be easily transmissible from human to human, and it is killing young adults rather than infants, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems.
Of course, people are beginning to panic, and the European Union has issued a warning urging its citizens to avoid travel to the U.S. and Mexico in hopes of heading off a global pandemic, but don’t shutter yourselves inside and prepare to wait out the flupocalypse in your bunker just yet.
The Centers for Disease Control have said that this particular strain is vulnerable to two commonly available flu medications, and the U.S. has not issued any travel advisories for its citizens (though they’re expected to issue one for travel to Mexico shortly). Common sense should prevail – wash your hands frequently, especially if you’re around someone who is sneezing or coughing. If you have flu symptoms, call your doctor, and don’t rush to the nearest ER if you just have a slight fever. And finally, read only reliable sources (scroll down for links to CDC and WHO) and stay away from “end of the world” and conspiracy websites. Don’t panic! You have more to fear right now from crazy taxi drivers than swine flu.