Holy crap! A flu pig! Run for the hills! But seriously, let’s take a look at this sucker, the hysteria around it, and the vaccine.
First thing to know is that this strain is HINI. That might not mean anything, but it is the same strain as the Spanish Flu that killed 50-100 million people in 1918. So, it is a bit reasonable that the CDC, UN, and well everyone is in a state of anxiety. The basic quote that the experts are saying is that it’s not a matter of will it happen, but when.
Why was that flu and maybe this one so deadly?
Normally, the flu affects very young people or much older people because their immune systems are weaker than adults. It usually leaves the rest of us feeling like crap for a few weeks. But after going through the experience once, you come to realize why getting a vaccine is important. Normally your immune system is able to eventually adapt, recognize, and kill the virus, and you get better.
But with a very foreign flu, like avian flu or swine flu, our immune systems are not used to the strain at all. In fact they’ve never seen anything remotely like it before so our bodies go into overdrive. Once the flu is able to infect people quickly, our immune system starts attacking everything. This is not good for people who have strong immune systems. Hence the huge fatalities of the Spanish Flu of 20-30 year olds. A sort of similar thing happened with Native Americans when Europeans started to settle America. Their immune systems hadn’t adapted to the disease so they were especially vulnerable.
Here are some more resources about the flu:
Yeah, that’s bad, but I’ve heard the vaccine is bad for you?
There are a lot of people who claim that the vaccine hasn’t been tested, or that it’s bad for peoples health. This post on the New York Times does a good job of addressing these concerns. There is also another one here on the Christian Science Monitor. The vaccine is used against the latest strain of the flu, and hopefully this prepares your body a little if the flu mutates. Either way, you’ll still be much better protected from the most common strain.
So, what can I actually do to prevent it?
Wash your hands often (a trick is to sing happy birthday while lathering your hands. This is supposed to be the correct amount of time to kill off germs).
If you do get the flu, go to the doctors and avoid people.
Avoiding pigs and pork won’t help. Nor will culling all your pigs.
This video does a great overview of pandemics, how to fight them, and how to be prepared.