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Apr 30, 2009 10:43 AM

Has anyone reduced going out because of the flu? [Moved from General Chowhounding Topics]

In Scottsdale now, we were in Tubac AZ a week ago, just across the border from Mexico. We have not gone out for dinner since Sunday, been cooking or getting takeout. I also skipped going to the Baseball game yesterday.

Flying today and not looking forward to it. Have a supply of masks and some wipes for the arms and table of the airplane.

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  1. Do you do that all the time? Because, you know, 36,000 people die of the "regular" flu in the U.S. every year.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      While there is no such thing as the "regular" flu, there is a vaccine annually for the active strains of virus that year. I get vaccinated every year. There is no current vaccine for the H1N1 Influenza Virus.

      1. re: PeterL

        Some years the vaccination is not very effective. One year recently I think it was only effective against 40% of influenza strains.

        1. re: PeterL

          That's why I put "regular" in quotation marks.

          Despite vaccinations, 36,000 people die of influenza in the U.S. every year. As queencru pointed out, vaccinations aren't always effective. Here's a really good blog article, that includes the following: "This month, in just one week (April 12-18, 2009), the CDC confirmed 25,925 cases of influenza in the United States and 55 child deaths." So, to recap: swine flu cases: 40, 1 death; non-swine influenza cases: 25,925, 55 child deaths. Why panic about one and not the other?

          My point is that no one panics about the fact that 36,000 people die of flu every year, and yet people are panicing about flu that so far doesn't seem to be even as virulent as the usual flu strains. Even in Mexico, it's impossible to know what percentage of people who have had H1N1 have died, since most people don't go to the doctor when they have the flu unless their symptoms are severe, and many, many mild cases have gone undiagnosed and unreported.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler


            there has even been some speculation that the current flue vaccines may in fact provide some partial protection against this H1N1 strain, as it could explain why cases in the US have generally been milder than in Mexico (flu vaccines are more commonly given here, though I wouldn't be surprised to see increase in distribution and use of the vaccine in Mexico in the future).

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Hmmm...I'm not sure I agree with your assertion that "no one panics" about the regular flu. I remember quite clearly a big hooha two (or three?) years ago when there wasn't enough flu vaccine to go around for the regular flu. It was quite the big deal in Minnesota. We even had a nurse arrested for selling flu vaccine to college students on the side. What she was doing was saving partly empty vials of vaccines from legitimate vaccinations and then administering the leftover vaccines to students for a fee.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                It was a big hooha here in Jersey too. My husband has a cardiac condition which makes him high risk for flu and we had to get him a vaccine throuigh the county because the supply was rationed to certain segments of society that year. I was able to get my son a vaccine that year as well, but I had to go without. We get vaccinated every year - I take the flu very seriously, I was sick with it once before getting vaccinated and it was a very scary experience.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                I will say, however, that even though 36,000 people die from flu or flu-related complications, about 90% of those deaths happen in people over the age of 65. I think one of the reasons some people are baffled is that the many people dying from this strain are young adults. So in that sense I can understand why one may be concerned with that. But at this point, people are indeed blowing this way out of proportion. And some people tell me that they're avoiding all things Mexican -- mangoes, etc. Oh well -- I just purchased some Mexican chorizo today and haven't thought twice about the flu.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Yes, most influenza deaths are among the elderly and the very young, and people with other, underlying health problems. But I don't think it's reasonable to say that "many people dying from this strain are young adults." First, I wouldn't even say that "many" people have died, period. The number of deaths is very small, compared to the population of the areas where the strain is being found. Furthermore, it's still not known what, if any, complicating medical conditions those people might have had. No one outside of Mexico has died (the only person who has died from H1N1 outside of Mexico was a toddler from Mexico whose parents brought him to the US for treatment, presumably because he was gravely ill). Most of the people who have had it in the U.S. didn't even get very sick. And most of them were sick weeks ago, since there's a time lag in running the analysis on the virus and going through the reporting process. A lot of the "precautions" are being taken unnecessarily because the person who had the disease has already recovered and is not longer infectious, and if he were going to spread it, he already would have.

                  At this time, it's ridiculous to be spending as much time and resources on this as we are. There's no reason kids should be missing school, and other unnecessary precautions are costing us money in a time when every penny counts.

                  It's just another case of media-driven hype combined with really poor risk-assessment ability causing people to act irrationally.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Well said Ruth, and thanks for posting this, duck. I've been going out less because I want to spend less money, not fear of the flu. I went to three card tournaments in the past week, gaming and comic book shops packed with grubby gamers, and I still shook hands with my opponents after matches. Call me wild and crazy. Going back out later today for Free Comic Book Day. Wheee!

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I will pull my son out of school in a heartbeat if a case of H1N1 shows up at his school. And his doctor confirmed that he will do the same if the flu strikes the schools where his children attend. I am very very aware of the media's intense manipulation of society - it sickens me. But there are nonetheless valid reasons to be concerned over this flu strain and I will not risk my son's life because I was worrying about analyzing media driven hype vs poor risk-assessment ability.

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        If a case of H1N1 were to show up at your son's school (or even be deemed "likely"), you likely wouldn't need to worry about defending the validity of pulling your son out--the school would pretty certainly be closed.

                        1. re: planetjess

                          Not anymore. The CDC has made a statement that closing schools is not an effective way to protect against the swine flu. I know schools in my hometown that were set to be closed all this week are opening tomorrow as a result of the statement.

                          1. re: queencru

                            Really? Damn, I miss the Daily Show for *one* day...

                2. re: PeterL

                  My ENT dr tells me that the flu shot is always at least a year behind the active strain because of the time that it takes to develop the flu vaccine. He did not quantify how effective it is, but he recommends not bothering taking it - just taking the tamiflu or other type treatments within 48 hours of coming down with the flu.

              3. No. Rightly or wrongly, I'm not even close to concerned yet. And I've got a sore throat.

                5 Replies
                1. re: tatamagouche

                  Nice knowing you, tatmagouche. Duck 833, how do you know the grocery store and takeout places aren't tainted? I agree with Ruth, I can't stop living my life because of this. I work at a major retail store and I brought up a point. What if someone gets the flu here, are they going to shut us down? What if someone at Kroger's gets the flu, them too. Extrapolate it out, and pretty soon we won't be able to leave our houses. Will it be a 24/7 curfew? Better stock up on supplies like we do in hurricane country.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    I worry more about crossing US 41 (major road here in FL). I risk my life every day driving with the elderly that reside here, the tourists that have no clue where they are going, and the kids who are just trying to avoid everyone else. Then the rest of us.

                    Nope, I don't worry about it. There is so much more to worry about than that. If you really worry about it you should better just lock yourself in your house and hope for the best.

                    It is serious, however, you can avoid being contaminated or exposed to it. It is just impossible. So life goes on and nothing changes.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Heh. If you don't hear from me after a while, send flowers.

                      Mind you, now that I have a full-blown cold, I'm staying in for other people's sake. No point in causing mayhem. But as everyone else is saying, to worry about every potentially life threatening thing is to threaten your own life, qualitywise.

                      1. re: tatamagouche

                        I don't know where you are, but stay the hell away from me, I hate colds. I just got back from my local farmer's market, (to me a misnomer as most of the proiduce is from elsewhere, mostly Mexico.) Anyway, the parking lot and stalls were half full (empty), and the checkout lanes had no wait. All of the vendors are Hispanic, and I can only think the reason is the swine flu scare. I go the same time every Friday to get my avacado supply for the week, and it is always packed, but not today.

                        1. re: tatamagouche

                          I like red daisys by the way ... lol, j/k.

                          I agree, as I have a cold from a friend who recently visited from up north. He thought he was over it ... WRONG ... now I have it. But I think I will survive, on my way to recovery already. But red gerber daisys please, :)

                          I think the majority will all be fine, just take smart pre cautions and eat healthy. That is my best advice, not a doctor, just an healthy advice for anyone. Eat healthy, rest up and stay fit and be cautious. Best laid advice for everyday living.

                    2. No-I actually am on the tail end of "regular flu" and I'm having a serious case of cabin fever after being in bed for 4 days. I can't wait to get out!!

                      1. I am flying tomorrow and figure everything will be fine. While the flu is never an enjoyable experience, fortunately it seems that is only deadly for a certain segment of the population. I will still eat out until they close the restaurants.