HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  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.

          http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2...

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            indeed.

            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.

              ~TDQ

              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.

                          1. I see no reason to panic and am living in an area where I may have come into contact with the one person in my state who was diagnosed with the swine flu. So far as I know, the person contracted the flu last week, is completely recovered, and no one else in the state has reported any symptoms. Nothing has been done in this area other than informing people to visit a physician if they experience any flu-like symptoms.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: queencru

                              so that those of us working in doctor's offices contract the flu?

                              I think this flu thing is overhyped. Slow news days.

                            2. regarding your precautions when flying:

                              wipes often have antibiotics, and there is more than enough of those floating around and possibly increasing resistance to all types of things. A better idea: get up, go to the lav, and wash your hands frequently. At least the walking around the airplane will help prevent DVT, so it does you some good there.

                              as for the masks, several sources I've read indicate that they may help protect those around you if you are already contagious, but really won't help you all that much. Some researchers think they actually encourage spread of the disease to the wearer (as opposed to those around the wearer) by creating a warm, moist environment near your mouth. But I suspect you aren't wearing the mask on the plane just because of concern for your fellow passengers.

                              Do you stay home if you don't feel well, wash your hands with soap and warm/hot water frequently and avoid coughing and sneezing into them? If yes, you are already taking the common sense precautions recommended and don't need to lock yourself up at home. If no, then it is probably a good thing that you are avoiding restaurants: for the sake of others, not yourself.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: susancinsf

                                Also - the culprit here is a virus, so antibiotics won't do much good. For myself, yesterday I went out to lunch with visiting family and dinner with a friend. And in Queens, no less, where a few people have been infected in that prep school. Yes, flu can kill, even healthy adults like myself, but so far this strain doesn't seem to be doing much of that. Until it does I'll continue mixing with people as usual in restaurants and elsewhere.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  Seconded on the hand washing. Generally soap and water and even just water tend to do a better job at killing the nasties than antibacterial wipes. The latter are fine in a pinch, but if soap and water is available, use that instead. I am also a fan of nasal irrigation. It sounds new agey and weird but I am normally miserable during allergy season with various long-lasting colds and have been fairly healthy so far this season.

                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                    What you say about the masks and the warm, moist environment makes a lot of sense.....

                                    I'm not worried at all, even though I did tell a friend who lives in San Diego and whose two children had flu-like symptoms a week ago (they are fine now) and who was just diagnosed herself with pneumonia that it might not be a bad idea to be tested....I was thinking more for the sake of alerting those around her should they wish to to take precautions....

                                    But I do wash my hands freqently anyway; its part of my job. And as part of my job today I came into close contact with at least 20 people, over half of whom are of Mexican descent and probably have relatives coming back and forth...and no, I didn't wear a mask, although if I were to be sick and/or coughing I would ( or I would just stay home....).

                                    But to bring it back around to food, I did have dinner Wednesday night in a popular Las Vegas restaurant and noted that the place was empty. REALLY empty. Of course, the continued rotten economy here could be just as much to blame as concern about the flu...(and if people continue to be afraid to travel then I'm afraid the economy here isn't going to get any better....)

                                  2. Nope. I live in Tempe and work in Chandler (where the school closings are because of the confirmed cases amongst young children) and am not worried. I don't have any kids to worry about either. My husband rides the light rail nearly every day on his way to the University and I work in a building with 1500 other people. I'd have to be a hermit to lower my exposure risk. I'm in good health, I'm not elderly or a child, and I can't seal myself off from the world living in a metro area of nearly 4 million people. The only thing I'm doing differently is counting to 20 (slowly) when I wash my hands to make sure they get good and clean.

                                    1. Nope, not doing anything differently. Going to a skating show in an arena full of people tonight.

                                      But I live in Toronto, one of the hotspots from the 2003 SARS outbreak and I didn't do anything differently then either. Other than hope every day that my husband who worked in a hotel didn't lose his job due to all the Toronto travel warnings.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Sooeygun

                                        It must be difficult to eat pasta through a surgical mask.

                                      2. I am not holing up at home either, but I'm also not dissing the measures being taken or looking down my nose at people who are concerned. All the people saying "oh puhleeze" or starting in with the "I just got back from mexico but I drank a lot of tequila, so don't worry" boggle me. It's also highly insensitive, considering people have died.

                                        Personally, i'm glad everyone is keeping well informed from the media and the like, that is responsible, particularly as when the news releases first started, little was known. And there still could be many unknowns with this, I really wish people would stop quoting how many deaths influenza results in each year or the elderly/children thing. Apples and oranges.

                                        I'm being extra careful with handwashing and stuff, really no different than what I do when I know a co-worker is sick , or there is a lot of stuff on the go. Have to admit though, that I cringed a little when someone sitting right next to me the other day announced that they'd just gotten back from mexico...but again, no different than when i've been close to someone who's announced that they spent the entire weekend praying to the porcelain god from a stomach virus. Really I wish people who were sick in general, would just stay the hell home until they're better (even though I know that many things are contagious before the victim shows symptoms)

                                        I have asthma, and any cold or flu really knocks the wind out my sails if it gets into my chest. I do not need this, or any flu.

                                        On an unrelated note, this whole thing has brought to mind the whole issue of corporate farming or overcrowding on farms, which assists in the proliferation of these things. I do not know if this was a factor in the origins of this virus, but in general, not a good thing. One of the main reasons I became vegetarian, not to avoid viruses, or because i think animals are unclean, but because I believe the practice causes problems all round.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                          While it is true with many virus' that you are contagious before you feel sick, I definitely wish that sick people would just STAY HOME! (regardless of what they are sick with). Many employers have a work culture that discourages people to stay home and heal when sick. A real disservice.

                                          Today, a co-worker with flu-like symptoms (coughing, sniffling, sore throat) came into our office (he works on another part of campus), went to a meeting with his boss (whose office is near mine) for an hour, and then sat down at a computer terminal shared by several people, and started checking his email. I was furious that his boss didn't immediately tell him he should go home and rest! And we are all web connected and he has a work supplied laptop, so he could definitely check the email from home.

                                          I was just debating what I should say, if anything (I know the guy by sight only), when another colleague who knows him better went up to him and said..."You are going home now." (as a statement, not a question). He did leave, and colleague told me later (as she and I washed our hands and then rubbed alcohol based gel on them fand on the omputer or good measure) that if he hadn't left she was going to march into his boss's office and say, 'either X goes home for the day, or I do:

                                          I wouldn't go so far, but I share her sentiment, and have for years. I know there are some people who dont have health benefits and may not have a real option to stay home from work. But those of us with sick leave and jobs where wellness is officially encouraged, should show respect for our coworkers and work environment andust stay home when sick!!! Moreover, evaluations of supervisors should include an assessment as to whether they exercise responsibility in assuring that sick employees don't infect others,

                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                            The point is that it's not apples and oranges. Influenza is a potentially deadly disease, whether it's H1N1 or one of the more common strains that kills tens of thousands of people every year. At this point, there's no more reason to take precautions against H1N1 than you would for any other kind of influenza; there's no more reason to change your habits now than there was all winter during "flu season."

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              This is all true, of course, but one of the precautions the vulnerable (the young, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, etc.) take during "flu season" --or before it really--is to get immunized. That option is currently not available. So, this is part of what is causing some alarm.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                The option to get a flu shot is not always universal. As I pointed out earlier, in some years it is effective against fewer than half that year's strains, and in others it's available in such limited quantities that even people in the at-risk groups are unable to obtain the shot.

                                                1. re: queencru

                                                  True, of course, but it is most certainly one of the precautions one would typically take. And I've pointed out above a couple of years ago when the quantity was limited and the stir it created. People do die from the flu and people do worry about it, even the "regular" flu.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                          2. Goodness, relax and live a little.

                                            A person is more likely to die from a car crash than from dying from the swine flu, or any flu for that matter.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Agreement here. Whether its a strain of flu, an approaching snowstorm, a third world researcher claiming he's linked apple pie with cancer or pundits predicting a worsening economy, the media is in the business of selling apprehension. Their ratings and subsequent revenues depend on it. Its not that bad, folks.

                                              Wash you hands, take your vitamins, drive defensively and hope for the best.

                                            2. jfood did round tripper last week, hotel, couple of new restaurants, formal tonight and back on a plane monday morning. is he concerned? a little. mrs jfood has always been a big fan of cleanliness and jfood has used purell a bunch over the years. now he has a little travel pack with him. A little squirt onthe plane and before every meal.

                                              The offshoot to this is a heightened awareness of cleanliness which is good and jfood's hands are a bit softer from all the purell.

                                              BTW - the sign in the bathroom that says "All employees must wash their hands after using the restroom" should be a mantra for everyone.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: jfood

                                                jfood I have never understood why the sign only refers to employees. Patrons need to wash their hands too.

                                                1. re: smartie

                                                  S

                                                  Just to be clear and he thinks he was, jfood thinks that EVERYONE should wash their hands immediately prior to leaving the restroom.

                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                    lol, because the patrons aren't serving other patrons.

                                                    the media likes to create panic. remember sars? avian flu?

                                                    this whole sky is falling nonsense makes me nuts. the masks are not made of magic paper. eat bacon. wash your hands. carry on.

                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                      The sign refers to employees because they are the only ones legally required to wash their hands -- unfortunately, there's no way to require that patrons wash their hands, even though they should.

                                                      I'm sort of amused by the new handwashing signs that went up in the kitchen and restrooms at my office this week. Shouldn't people have been washing their hands all along? I sure do!

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        The best is companies that place detailed instructions about handwashing into restroom stalls. I think I've worked in a few places that had phases where the stalls gave these instructions. I wonder if they were trying to overcome their pathetic sick leave policies in hopes that more lengthy handwashing would prevent sickness?

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          As the chef/owner of an establishement that serves food, I have ALWAYS been a big proponent of hand-washing. My place has an open kitchen, so customers can see everything when they're standing at the front counter. When we get busy, I'm more of a front-of-the-house person: taking orders, pouring drinks and settling bills, so I don't do a great deal of food-handling in front of the guests, but normally when I go from one task to the next (taking money to opening a bottle of wine or working on the computer to delivering food, for example) I stop and wash my hands. The kitchen handsink is about ten feet from the front desk, so I often spend the time while the water is running greeting, or answering questions or some other verbal back-and-forth with the guest (it's kind of a casual place: we serve everybody, but we only serve friends sort of vibe). What I've noticed over the past week is that more and more guests get a sort of big smile on their face when they see me back away from them to get to the handsink. This simple precaution/ritual that I've been following for years is registering with people like never before.

                                                          But the previous posts have made me think -- should I also install a sink in the customer area so that they can wash their hands before their meal? It never occurred to me before, but it might be a nice touch. Obviously, we've got sinks available in the rest rooms, but if the handwashing amenities were more public it might encourage folks to wash their hands before dinner.

                                                          I'm not calling the plumber yet -- just musing on a Saturday afternoon. But I haven't yet come up with a reason why it would be a bad idea.

                                                          1. re: chefbeth

                                                            I love this idea. Some public bathrooms are such a turnoff that I think people avoid using them for "just" hand-washing purposes, and I think that caution overflows into even nice places with clean bathrooms. If I saw a little hand sink tucked in a corner marked for customer use, you bet I'd use it. It'd be easy to keep clean, too.

                                                            1. re: Vetter

                                                              even though it's "hygienic", i don't want to see other diners flossing their teeth. i also don't want to see them washing their hands. that means water flying around, paper towels on the floor, etc. there are bathrooms for that.

                                                    2. I'm a handwasher, and always have been. i've trained my children well. I'll wash my hands frequently during the day. I really try not to spread germs.

                                                      But no I haven't stopped going out, in fact yesterday I stopped at a little tacqueria in town and had a wonderfully fresh chicken tostada, and sure I did think about the flu, but only after I ate the tostado.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                        I admit, bad at the hand washing, but since this ... yes I will try to pay much more attention to this.

                                                      2. Wehave not stopped going out but my mother in law has decided to stay home and work her way thru her freezer. She sounds very frightened by the swine flu and, then, last night she felt the 4.4 earthquake, which had its epicenter right where she lives. She's a little stressed out now.

                                                        On washing hands, yes, it's very important. But also important is to keep your hands off of your face - keep your hands away from mucuous membranes.

                                                        If anyone in our office is sick we beg them to please stay home until not contageous.

                                                        Hard to do too much more than that.

                                                        1. Here in Los Angeles, just checking in on CDC and WHO statements every day or two, using a little hand sanitizer occasionally, not actively avoiding crowds but not jumping at the chance to immerse in them either. Had pork last night. Went to great very Mexican seafood joint in L.A. last weekend. We haven't curtailed activities aside from deciding not to grab a quick Mexico trip that we were only about 30% thinking about anyway. Fine with me if only to avoid the this-is-closed-this-week hassles Mexico has been undergoing the past few days.)

                                                          CDC's page:
                                                          http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/index.htm?...

                                                          That agency itself recommends, in part:
                                                          # Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
                                                          # Develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.

                                                          So far lots of naysayers to a legitimate question, mixed in with the other replies. Nobody that I saw noted that the regular flu doesn't close 400 schools, or that the W.H.O. doesn't raise the pandemic alert about regular flu to level 5. Instead some have blamed media 'hype' for reporting what it is the emergency officials, and the U.S. president, have been warning. (If you truly don't understand why it's a concern, please go read up on how epidemics spread, how quickly they can do so, and why a new flu is more dangerous than one our bodies are familiar with. And I don't mean that in a snarky way. It isn't necessarily intuitive how quickly an illness like a novel flu can proliferate, or the consequences. These public health officials are not all sky-is-falling types - they show concerns because they do understand the situation.

                                                          Of U.S. states, Arizona is #4 in cases and not all that far from the Northern Mexico deaths. Two schools in Chandler and one in Phoenix closed temporarily. True, confirmed cases still aren't many. But I hope nobody's naive enough to think that every case that exists somehow magically gets tested in a timely fashion and lumped into the confirmed category.

                                                          It's terrific that in the U.S. and elsewhere so far the severity doesn't appear to be what Mexico had. Hopefully that won't come as this flu spreads further. But health officials don't know yet what will happen - whether it will just spread and be relatively easily managed or if it will cause bigger problems, either soon - as it's still very early in this potential pandemic - or later as cases may re-emerge during the next flu season. Health officials have taken some great precautionary measures and - hopefully - won't need to take more.

                                                          1. I haven't changed my dining or going out habits one bit. I will admit though that I have been washing my hands more often and thoroughly than before. As others have pointed out, I can't stop living my life because of this. If the death rate were 70%, like the avian flu several years ago, then perhaps my choices would be different. But clearly, that's not what we're dealing with.

                                                            Some people surely have been caught up in the hysteria. My parents, for example, refused to attend my college graduation ceremony two days ago. It was a few possible swine flu cases being identified in the county where my university is located which helped make the decision easy for them.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: Agent Orange

                                                              See, when people say "what does it hurt" to be careful, this is an example. Your parents missed their child's college graduation -- something they had probably looked forward to for years -- out of an irrational fear. My sympathies -- it sounds like you're being more understanding than I would have been.

                                                              Then look at all the money being spent on school closures at a time when money is already tight; all the people for whom people cancelling trips, outings, eating out is the final straw that loses them their job or their business in a rough economy, etc.

                                                              Not to mention some of the stuff people are panicking about has no basis in any reasonable fact. You cannot get swine flu from eating pork! And yet the price of pork is plummeting, and hog farmers are hurting over something that has no possibility of causing illness. I heard today people are cancelling vacation reservations in Mexico ... for next winter! Why? For one thing, even if we do have a full-blown epidemic it will be over by then, and for another, there's no reason to cancel them now -- why not wait and see? It's irrational, and it's causing a lot of unnecessary harm.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                I think partly it's panic; the news cycle is like virtual Ouroboros. What is based in fact is that flu strains can appear in the Spring, and cause a mild outbreak, then virtually dissappear over the summer, but then cause a more severe outbreak in the Fall. Viruses mutate,and H1N1 is unprecendented. No one has prior immunity or vaccination. A vaccine for H1N1 is pending.
                                                                While thus far, in the US, it has apparently weakened and cause relatively minor sympotms, it is still too early to consider swine flu a non-event.

                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                  Not to mention that a flu strain which is initially mild can come back in a VERY deadly form on it's return tour. That is exactly what happened in 1918, another flu strain that no one had immunity too.

                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                    I have a feeling this year many will suffer from the Flu.
                                                                    Get your shot early.

                                                                    Ouroboros

                                                                     
                                                                    1. re: Kholvaitar

                                                                      did you bump this thread solely to post that pic?

                                                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    At least it was the parents' choice not to attend; according to Inside Higher Ed at least one college has barred some students from attending their own graduation (an 'alternative' ceremony will be held) because they recently came back from trips to Mexico; the school acknowledged that there was an element of 'hysteria' that fed into its decision:

                                                                    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/20...

                                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                                      I don't stay home more and haven't changed anything big - probably use my hand sanitizer and wash my hands more. Don't think we have any confirmed cases in MS yet, but I'm going to live my life while I'm alive!

                                                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      couldn't agree with you more, Ruth. Being careful is one thing...but missing my child's college graduation...no way!! In fact, I have been living in secret fear that the idiots who run his institution will decide to cancel the graduation (coming in less than two weeks...). I am heartened by the news that the outbreak seems to be lessening...hopefully my fears are therefore unfounded....

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        Following on to Ruth's excellent point, support your local pork producer! They are taking a huge beating right now.

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          I went out and stocked up on pork chops last night! :-)

                                                                      2. re: Agent Orange

                                                                        I will not miss our daughter's college graduation this weekend if there is an outbreak of the plague, damn it!

                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                            My flu advice is the same as Stephen Colbert's. Wear a mask but cut a mouth hole in it so you can ask people if they have the flu. Seriously, there has been another strain of swine flu before and the vaccine killed more people than the flu. The danger of the new swine flu is that it could mutate to a hyper-aggressive and lethal variant and lay waste to a population. The likelihood of that happening is about a couple billion to one.

                                                                            1. re: Selective food1e

                                                                              Yes, I was given the swine flu vaccine back in the 70's. I was sick as a dog afterwards. It was years before I got another flu shot, although I do now.

                                                                      3. I work with the public and the Swine Flu is the least of my worries. I caught strep throat two years ago that took me over a month to recuperate from because the first round of antibiotics didn't work. It really interfered with my enjoyment of food. I missed everything from sparkling water to curry. I guess if a strep outbreak were to happen I'd live in a bubble.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                          I had strep a couple of times, so I totally know the misery! When I worked in direct contact with lots of people each day, I used to catch bugs far more often. Now, of course, my bubble protects me ;-)

                                                                        2. I have a bout of the "reg" 'flu at the moment, feel like absolute cr@p. BUt If I hear the word "pandemic" just one more time in relation to Swine "flu, I'll go postal, Seriously, it's a beat-up, media-hype quick ploy to get the pharmaceutical companies some sales.

                                                                          1. Number of confirmed cases in my state: one.
                                                                            Number of related deaths: zero.
                                                                            Number of times I went out to eat last week: about the same as usual.
                                                                            Number of times I ate pork: every chance I got!

                                                                            1. Have not even thought about it, but have been in London and DC, so maybe we've just been missing some of this. We usually dine out during more traditional "flu season," so maybe we are not as careful, as we should be. I will say that there were tons of masks around the airports, so others do seem more affected by this.

                                                                              Hunt

                                                                              1. this is the irrationality of large numbers. we have fewer than 200 suspected cases here in the u.s. 1 death (actually a mexican toddler here for treatment.) everyone thinks they are going to be part of the tiny slice that gets this flu, instead of 350 million + who do not.

                                                                                mexico is already ratcheting down its public health warnings, as well as the number of deaths caused by swine flu.

                                                                                media-induced panic, anybody?

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                  What's especially bad is that it seems like the people in the typically healthy age group died because they did not seek medical attention for several days or a week. The CDC is now issuing statements to say that closing schools is not an effective way to prevent the spread of swine flu, particularly when schools are closed at any sign of swine flu.

                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                    Agreed on both points.

                                                                                    Here's a clip with Marc Feldstein discussing exactly that -- the hype and fear-mongering surrounding H1N1: http://mediamatters.org/clips/2009050...

                                                                                  2. I work for a public health department and the only thing I have been doing different is washing my hands more frequently, something I probably should do all of the time. I think people need to be aware of potential public health threats but they do not need to be beat over the head with it like the media does these days.

                                                                                    1. The CDC has decided that it is not necessary to keep schools closed. Great news for graduations! And restaurants!

                                                                                      (NECN: Atlanta, GA) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius traveled to the headquarters of the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, this afternoon to discuss the H1N1 flu outbreak.

                                                                                      Sebelius said schools no longer need to close because of the H1N1 (swine) flu.

                                                                                      "It makes it even more important that parents and teachers and others pay even more attention to sickness," said Sebelius. "If your child is sick, please do not send your child to school. If a teacher is sick, please do not come to school."

                                                                                      "This virus does not seem to be as severe as we once thought it could be," said Sebelius.

                                                                                      "Our aggressive efforts to learn more and study more and certainly ramp up vaccine production are going to be underway," said Sebelius.

                                                                                      "We will have a seasonal flu vaccine up and ready for the millions of Americans who do need to take their flu shots, and if necessary we will have a vaccine for H1N1 ready by flu season," said Sebelius. "We're working as fast as possible to stay ahead of this disease."

                                                                                      1. It doesn't change ANY of my "going out and about" habits. I wash my hand a little more often, but nothing else changes. I don't doubt that there is an increased risk at present, but I think that the press has blown it out of proportion, as hey are often want to do.