Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Fuckwit


Bit of a long one this week. The Friday Fuckwit is an emotion . .yep . ."PANIC" , "PARANOIA", "OVERREACTION" or "FEAR MONGERING" . . you choose the right term but frankly, this Swine Flu business is out of control, ridiculously overrated and blown out of all proportion. I'm all for precaution especially if it's potentially life saving but when an outbreak is announced in Victoria (last week) all hell breaks loose . .children are advised to stay away from school, tourists are deterred from travel, mass events are cancelled . . please . .can we start using another emotion, say PERSPECTIVE . . and put it all IN!

Recently a cruise ship was halted outside Sydney harbour while testing for about 12 passengers was completed. It turned out none had Swine Flu . .all had regular influenza or heavy colds yet the whole voluntary quarantine thing seemed like overkill. I'm a little concerned at the paranoia surrounding this disease. Yes, it's a new strain. Yes, it's debilitating. No, it's barely preventable since influenza is a constantly mutating virus and anyone who's had a preventative flu injection can tell you that it doesn't necessarily stop you becoming afflicted. So, with around 12,000 people worldwide affected and 79 deaths as a result of influenza complications, why is this being considered a pandemic?

Here's the next stupid suggestion in a flagging economy - let's ban - bangarang in the middle of the footy season - all public gatherings and events (they'll be disinfecting money next!). This in an effort to prevent the spread of influenza. The rub however, is that in any one year up to 26,000 Americans will die from the flu . .normal, everyday, self-mutating flu. (Sorry no WHO stats on Australia). So why are we so paranoid about this strain. Remember SARS? We were all going to cark it if we came within 2 metres of a chicken.

The swine virus that is at the root of the current outbreak is called H1N1—the same labeling given to the virus that caused the devastating 1918-19 flu pandemic. But not all H1N1 flu viruses are created equally, and the swine virus appears to be quite different from all other H1N1 viruses. However, all adult deaths from swine flu have occurred only in Mexico and one recently in the US, despite the growing number of cases in other countries. This raises serious questions about the outbreak there, especially in light of the fact that adults elsewhere who are affected by the virus and who are treated within 30–48 hours of the onset of flu-like symptoms are experiencing full recovery from their illness. Could it be that the Mexican health authorities are not quite on top of their game, or perhaps those affected are leaving medical attention too late?

I'm not deriding the seriousness of this disease which is mutating by the moment and apparently is a strain of swine, human and bird flu never encountered before but an epidemic? It barely gets a mention in Europe, has been received with abject paranoia in the US and Australia. Everyone keeps banging on about the Spanish Flu but that occurred long before the advent of antibiotics.

Frankly, people do not 'die' from influenza, they die from infections resulting from the disease or heart conditions exacerbated by high temperatures which cause fibrillation. If caught in time in healthy adults it can be mitigated by the administration of antibiotics and paracetamol to control fever and the injection of the latest vaccines.

Swine flu has killed 2.5% of the people who contracted it. The most deadly influenza virus is still the H5N1 flu virus which is still surfacing in Asia and in Egypt. The H5N1 Bird flu virus has killed over 50% f all the people who contract it even when they get medical treatment quickly. So how come we're still all flocking to Thailand and Vietnam?

Panic responses have been rife: In China, more than 70 Mexicans were quarantined despite showing no signs of the flu, prompting charges of discrimination. In Egypt, more than 300,000 pigs were slaughtered despite the fact that no cases of the flu have been reported in the country - and that you can't get it from eating pork. In Australia a ship load of tourists were held at bay outside the harbour until testing determined they did not have swine flu. Your standard everyday flu, by contrast, kills more than 100 people a day, and yet it is largely treated as a fact of life, not a grave threat.

The conspiracist in me suspects that much of this adverse publicity may be benefiting the drug companies. No, really! Yes. Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Relenza both react against swine flu.

So, you make up your own mind. To my mind, we need to just put this all into perspective, sure it's serious, sure you need medical attention and treatment but for goodness sakes, it's not the bubonic plague. Fear my friends is a great controller.


It's a long weekend in Sydney (not that I'd notice) so have a good one folks. . .raise your glass to the Queen (Victoria apparently) and enjoy the three days off!

35 comments:

nick said...

It's just another of those media/expert scares isn't it? Right from the start I was totally unconcerned, the risks of any one person being infected are miniscule. How many cases have there been? And how many people on the planet? I rest my case.

As you say, more people die of bog-standard flu any day of the week (or die on the roads come to that). But some people love to whip themselves up into a frenzy of panic.

Grow Up said...

Well said. Of course fear will also distract you from any civil unrest that you might otherwise be inclined towards as a consequence of the government being rather shit at their job (unless their job is lining their own pockets at your expense). Hey, I believe you are not in a recession down there! Nice one, that news should help you in your quest.

Oh and Victoria kicked ass. Usually ass of a significantly darker complexion than her own, so no I don't mean that in a good way. Still coming from my family I am obliged to respect a lady with serious bottle.

Susan at Stony River said...

Media has become such an evil. They love a potential "pandemic"; hordes of the stupid will now keep themselves glued to the tv (and its advertising) to track the evil's progress and be duly alarmed or reassured in turns as the newscaster dictates.

Life without television--bliss!

Brian Miller said...

great post. fear...our response, over reaction what is next, putting people in camps,hiding in our homes? (since the snake visit T is a little leary of the shed...ouch, just got the elbow) the other is the use of fear by media, by those in power to control...detestable. have a great weekend baino

River said...

'm not at all concerned about swine flu, nor any other type of flu. i'm tough.

subtorp77 said...

What bloody pandemic? That's so WWI( in which millions died ). The media has most of the world screaming "pandemic, iiieeeeeeeyyahh! **cough**; excuse me. Yes, it's out of controlle. I've been battling something a bit similar; it's called summer bloody allergies! Heeelllooo CDC?( sorry Baino, don't know what it's called in Aussie land )

What's more; this is just more proof that the media has gotten to big for it's proverbial knickers, wot?

Candie Bracci said...

It's just too much!
Have a nice weekend!

Grannymar said...

Road and drink related deaths somehow don't count, perhaps because they are so common nowadays, yet a few little swiners....

I put this in the bag with the Millennium Bug, remember that? - and all the other urban myths that roll and gather moss on a daily basis.

I gotta die some day and if Bird/Swine/Aids/Cancer don't get me then sleep will! In the meantime... where did that toyboy go?

Gayé Terzioglu said...

mmmmmmmmmmmm Hugh Laurie mmmmmmmmmmmm

Renee said...

Not that it is funny but I laughed at your occupation.

Things in Canada are going really slow at many businesses and there are worries for many of jobs closing.

Difficult times.

Love Renee xoo

jay said...

Yeah, we've been-there-done-that over here. People have now got tired of it and don't take any notice - and that's the danger of the media hype mentality. If (God forbid) there's an outbreak of something genuinely life-threatening and seriously dangerous, we'll all be ho-hum about it and they won't be able to make us panic, when we should panic.

Love the first picture! LOL!

laughingwolf said...

i said pretty much the same thing about a month ago, with canadian stats indicating somewhat more than 50,000 dying here anually, of non pig flu...

i saw graphic pics of the mexican hog industry, a wonder more folk aren't dead of multiple diseases :(

but like all 'industries', 'the war on drugs' and 'the war on poverty' included, millions of yahoos would be out of work if anything was actually done about them!

Ces said...

What?! You don't disinfect your money? You don't launder money? I always laundered mine.

Melissa said...

As I heard someone say recently, "It's the FLU people." Be safe and smart, but don't panic for heaven's sake. :D

Megan said...

I agree wholeheartedly with every bit of this post.

So fucking ridiculous. One day every media outlet in the country is screaming pandemic, six days later - not a sausage?

Why do they (meaning the media) continue to treat us like idiots? Why why why?!?

kj said...

gee, finally something i haven't over reacted about.

kj's restraint is a small step for personkind....

ps i'll be in touch. xo

Don't Bug Me! said...

Let me start by saying that I do agree with the whole media madness over the swine flu........but.....you knew that was coming, didn't you?
But, there is a very real risk that this (or something similar) could turn into a pandemic and become a very serious issue. It may not, it probably won't and we shouldn't completely disrupt our lives because of the small chance that it could. But, we should be educated (properly, and not by mass media that just want our viewing numbers through fear mongering) about the dangers of a pandemic and how we can minimise the risk. We need to be prepared - if, and I say if, the bird flu did jump species to human to human transmission, and this is entirely possible, we could be looking at a flu that could spread around the world with a mortality rate of 50%. Now that is something worth worrying about. Not obsessing about, not completely losing our minds about, not becoming totally irrational about, but certainly something to be aware of and to plan for. Also, since this is flu that we are talking about, antibiotics will not work against it, since they are only effective against bacteria. There are viral drugs out there, such as Tamiflu, but there is not enough for everyone. Who gets it? Well, me, obviously, but then who? Let's just be sensible, shall we?

Kath Lockett said...

Hear hear Baino. But the media LOVE this kind of thing - gives them a rest from the GFC - now every second page can be devoted to Swine Flu instead until the next AFL or NRL sex scandal crops up.

Love the first photo - someone who is actually whiter than I am!

lettuce said...

yes, you could well be right about the pharmaceutical companies.

its all gone quiet on Swine flu over here lately - partly theres too much hoo-ha going on about the government. But also the UK public generally have seemed to find it more something to joke about than to panic about...

Kate said...

There soon won't be an animal left that has not been labeled as dangerous because of a mutating virus.....

Panic tactics work well with the masses but I'm afraid real life is much more scary. I believe in fate, rightly or wrongly - somethings gonna get us all one day!!

Oh - Hugh Lawrie and 'House' - brilliant!

ashleigh said...

Oh yeah. Way OTT. Time for some perspective.

Ropi said...

Well, the last Austro-Hungarian king (Blessed Charles IV) died in that Spanish flu epidemic as far as I remember but a few years later. His grandson is the 2nd candidate of a conservative party to the EU Parliament. I am not going to vote for them surprisingly. I hope you see the character development. :P

I think this swine flu is a bit overestimated. Everyone is panicing. In Hungary there has been 2 cases (both healed) while in the neighbouring countries this rate is higher. The reason is partly that we have no money to go to the USA or Mexico a lot but we also have security actions on the airports which prevents the virus spread in Hungary.

I find it a bit ironic because one of the reasons for the split of the Austro-Hungarian Monarhy was that it is very "Medieval like" in administration. I have to tell that in the early 1900s Austria-Hungary had quicker GDP growth than the US and in 1914 if there was no war Austria-Hungary would overtake the US in living standards and economy. Our military wasn't strong though. Hungary has no developed medical service compared to many countries but we can prevent that swine flu escalates to an epidemic here.

That's about being Medieval!

Grannymar said...

An Interesting fact about this so called Pandemic of Swine Flu!

On the BBC news we are told of a woman who is critically ill with this flu in Paisley, Scotland. She has given birth, three months early and the baby is in intensive baby care. The baby shows no sign of the swine flu!

Marianna said...

Fear IS a great controller indeed my friend! It also sells flu-shots that are in storage rooms (and no one seemed to buy before...), it takes people's minds off the more serious issues and matters...

Great post! Oh and 'House' rules lol
Hope you're enjoying your weekend so far :)
xoxo

e said...

No kidding! Enjoy the weekend, Baino!

Auntie, aka Dog Girl said...

Thank you for your eye-opening post, Baino. Here in NYC the FEAR of swine flu has caused more disruptions than the actual virus.
BTW, my boyfriend's daughter ("step spawn") has been trying to catch swine flu. She's a hypochondriac. She relishes in illness and self-pity. ugh.

otin said...

The issue with the swine flu is that it jumped species, and that is why it is of such concern. Read "The Hot Zone", a book that came out in the 90's about ebola, and how a strain of it made it to the us in monkeys but never jumped species, if it had, there would have been no stopping it!

Baino said...

Thanks folk. Interesting comments all but it's important to remember too that Swine Flu is not the only interspecies disease. There's an equine virus that killed a trainer here and nobody shot all the horses! It's a serious flu I agree, but all the pullava? Not necessary and we ourselves become as immune to this kind of sensationalism as we have to AIDS . . .remember that was going to kill us all in the 80's.

Now the sun is shining and Olympic Park Mangrove walk beckons! Enjoy your Sunday!

Babysis said...

Roughly 3000 Australians per year die of your normal every day flu. Yes, some of these are from complications like pneumonia but some a just from the flu. That is why we vaccinate in flu season with particular attention to the elderly.

Swine flu is definately something to be concerned about, yet not paranoid about.

I agree with Dont Bug Me and Otin - we should be very aware of Swine Flu. The NSW premier did not help one iota by saying children should be kept home from school - but I believe he was trying to do the right thing - you can imagine how quickly it could spread through a school.

Currently at the surgery, we are confining anyone with flu like symptoms and giving them a mask - we have swabbed many people - none have come back positive, but the risk is very real.

Dont underestimate it as a pure media beat up - these instructions come from the Health Department, who take their instruction from the WHO.

Ropi said...

Well, I just came from voting and yes these are the conservative parties but I didn't vote for them. I don't like the FIDESZ in general and I was thinking about MDF but I don't want Habsburg György to represent me. So I was voting for Lehet Más a Politika.

subtorp77 said...

@Auntie; "step spawn"? L'il Rooster has a sis?

Baino, what's more is that the medicine available, doesn't do much to rid one of the disease...Mother Nature is closing in!

Bimbimbie said...

Oink Oink ... It's all got a little looney tunes hasn't it. School kids who traveled to Melbourne last week for the state of origin are not allowed back into schools for seven days but teachers are ok to!

... the only great number of people falling over that I've heard of are of course those greedy bastards in the British government. Perhaps that's another swine pandemic*!*

Bimbimbie said...

Oink Oink ... It's all got a little looney tunes hasn't it. School kids who traveled to Melbourne last week for the state of origin are not allowed back into schools for seven days but teachers are ok to!

... the only great number of people falling over that I've heard of are of course those greedy bastards in the British government. Perhaps that's another swine pandemic*!*

Ropi said...

I am not prohibited to tell it to you. :)

Mrsupole said...

I swear just reading about all these symptoms again is making me sick again. I surely hope that