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May 04, 2009

The Pigs Are Coming To Get Me.

The Pig Pandemic
Lisa Daily

I am generally not prone to panic.  Or buying into hype.  Or, you know, elbowing my way into the bar car on the mass hysteria speedrail.

I pretty much go through life surrounded by a warm bubble of protection/delusion, believing that everything will work out just fine.  It usually does.

There's always an airplane seat when I need one, circumstances frequently line up in my favor, and my husband regularly lets me eat his dessert.

But the swine flu has me freaked out. 

Late last week, we heard on the news that a swine flu case had been confirmed in a neighborhood where we used to live.  (Mind you, this particular neighborhood is about an hour and a half south of where we live now, but still.)   This was the first time I really felt concern.  My kids are 5 and 9, in the prime nose-picking, germ-spreading years.  And the fact that swine flu hit where we used to live, made the idea that it might hit where we live now feel like a genuine possibility.

Tonight, we learned that there are another 5 probable cases in Tampa, just 45 minutes north of our house.

I'm starting to feel like we're being surrounded.

Logically, I know the chances of a swine flu outbreak where my kids go to school is slim to none.  I also know that if it did hit closer to home, that my beloved offspring have access to great medical care, an overprotective mother cranking out chicken soup around the clock, and all the Tamiflu our family of four could ever need.

I'm not panicky enough (yet)  to avoid crowds, don surgical masks in public, or investigate the haz-mat suit offerings on ebay.  But I'm nervous.

So until there's an end in sight, I'll just do what I do during every national or world crisis:  Stay glued to MSNBC and soothe myself with cheeze doodles and last year's Halloween candy.

And possibly douse my children in antiseptic gel before I let them leave the house. 


My mom sent me this photo, one of those FW:FW:FW:FW:FW:FW: deals.  I have no idea of the identity of the the child or the pig.  But I'm pretty sure we now know who's to blame for this pig pandemic.


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That picture makes me laugh! I think we have identified ground zero for Swine Flu! The last map I saw of outbreaks shown NONE here in Arkansas. I'm not freaking out, buying masks, etc. Just using common sense...washing my hands, not picking my nose, no kissing hogs, etc.

Isn't that photo hilarious? Someone sent it to me about two years ago.

A friend of ours, who was the first woman DJ in Cincinnati (and therefore extremely cool), has a radio show on Saturday afternoons. Yesterday was the Flying Pig Marathon in that wonderful town, an event that draws from far and wide. Mary predicted that yesterday would be the day that "swine flew". Groan.

But a little levity is what we need, to temper the panic, I think.

Wait, you still have candy left over from Halloween? And you have children in the house? Not to worry, then, Lisa. You're the kind of mom who keeps her kids safe. Definitely.

I have heard that those of us who have been around [quite] awhile have probably developed the antibodies for the '2009-H1N1'. I think that if we were born in 1957 or earlier, we're set.

This is all heard on NPR when I wasn't really paying attention, so maybe you shouldn't pay any attention to me.

What does it mean that my mother in law sent me the same photo?

Hollygee- I don't think anyone has antibodies to this flu- thats why there's such a concern, it's a "new flu"

This flu has me a little freaked out. I did a lot of research a couple of years ago for a project on (historical) infectious diseases and epidemics- and really wished I hadn't.

But, it does seem to be "mild" in that from what Ive heard from people who have it, you feel really really sick, but you recover. What really concerns me is that, historically, Flu epidemics tend to have a mild first wave in the Spring- which is probably what we are having now, then it goes quiet and comes roaring back in the Fall. The current flu situation doesn't concern me so much, if I or my family get it we'll just ride it out with lotso chicken soup and juice. ITs the Fall varient that has me worried. I'm hoping that I'm wrong (Most likly I am) or that there will be a vax in time. I wouldn't count on the Tamiflu. Theres something like 50 million courses Stockpiled- which sound like a lot, except there are 300 million Americans,- and sometimes it takes more than one dose per person. This strain seems to be sensitive to Tami which is good, but many strains are not.

I'm with you on the staying glued to MSNBC_ though I prefer Doritos. (Note to self: stock up on Doritos)

I wish we could post pictures in the comments, because I love this take on the swine flu - and sorry for the extended link - by the by, I know nothing about this site, so if it's part of some KKK webring, please let me know:


Great Blog!

Thanks all!

We watched the President's news conference last week, and I was delighted when he told the nation, "cover your mouth when you cough."

As a parent, there's nothing more delightful than having your kids see the President giving the same advice you've been spouting for years.

Suddenly, it's not just about good manners..it's your patriotic duty.


The CDC and WHO have good websites on swine flu. I've discussed it extensively with our resident virologists and microbiologists, which discussions have actually left me pretty well un-panicked.

Kelly is right that what we're experiencing now looks like a pretty typical "quiet first wave" in the spring, which typically means it will die down in the summer when kids aren't in school transmitting it hither and yon. And she's right that the biggest danger is that, over the summer, the virus will evolve into an increasingly virulent form that could cause major problems during the fall flu season. But if we can get a good vaccination program going and people follow normal precautions, the fall outbreak shouldn't be any worse than any other "bad" flu outbreak (remember that, what, 30,000-40,000 people die of flu every year in the U.S. under "normal" circumstances).

Honestly, what worries me is that we don't have the right kind of infrastructure for people to take the normal, sound precautions -- specifically the "stay home from work and keep your kids home from school" ones. What if you don't have sick days accumulated, or can't afford to stay home from work because you or your child aren't feeling well? For some people, a bad flu outbreak is going to put them between the proverbial rock and hard place, and that really kinda pisses me off. If that makes any sense . . .

Karen in Ohio,

Thanks :-)

I prefer to think of it as "good mothering" versus "stealing my children's hard-earned Halloween candy"




Great point.

I couldn't agree more. I know there are a lot of parents who 1) can't take off a week even though their kids are unexpectedly out of school and 2) can't afford 40 hours of unplanned childcare expenses.

Hmmm... more evidence we need a better health care system and policy...


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Love that picture. Our CEO used it in orientation last week with a comment about family vacation photos from Mexico being mixed in with work stuff.......

I remember 1976 when we all lined up and got swine flu vaccines.....and nothing came of the flu. I realize that people with compromised immune systems, older peole and small children at at risk, but the rest of us should be fine. Just practice good, healthy living and follow the CDC's precautions. No reason to get hysterical. That's just silly.

Thats one of my worries- people who are sick who go into work because they don't have sick days, or health insurance. And what about the kids if school closes?

I'm lucky that I work at home, and my kids are teens. Ones going to college in the fall though and that concerns me if this virus rebounds. Yikes!

Its allways something....

Oh- by the way - LOVED the "Pooh Flu!"

Blog Hijack

For all you Harley Jane fans...


Looks like fun!

Not time to panic yet. The very name tells us it's, in part, a flu we've had before.

We're fairly sure ML had it about four weeks ago.

By autumn we should have a better vaccine. Kerry is correct, though - delivery of the vaccine around the country on short notice will be a bit of a job.

Another scary aspect of our health system is that so many people, close to 50 million (one SIXTH of our citizens) do not have any health insurance. They will be the ones who don't seek treatment, and are a serious weak point in our nation's health.

My husband would have to have 2 broken legs and lose his car keys before he'd take a sick day. Which is the kind of attitude that turns a few cases of flu into a pandemic. Just saying.

See some of you at the Festival of Mystery later today!

I am ignoring the whole swine flu thing, since I have spent the last month on planes and will spend the next month on planes.

However, I would like to confess here that I finished off all my children's Halloween candy and am halfway through their Easter candy leftovers. Thank you in advance for your absolution.

There have been a few confirmed cases of the flu near me. And gee, I take transit to get to work.
I wash my hands when I get to the office and as soon as I get home. The totality of my flu protection.
I also visit my friend Anne at the hospital twice a week. Wash my hands when I get there and when I leave.
I have 11 paid sick days left, hmmmm, should I save them for the fall???

Based on what the boss shared, this H1N1 influenza A subtype is an apparent re-assortment of an endemic human strain, two endemic pig strains and an avian strain.

It is much like the seasonal flu in symptoms and transmission.

It is a descendant of the infamous “Spanish Flu” of 1918-19 which killed more than 500,000 Americans and approximately 20 million people worldwide (before some awesome advances in the medical field).

Wash your hands. Limit social interractions (ooops, helped host a Cinco de Mayo fiesta Saturday night!). Stay home if sick (darn, I didn't have a hangover...must be all of the tequila I drank!). In other words, think smart and act smart.

We just have one vase announced here in PA. But a bunch in DE and NJ.

Debby, you are sooo smart! Tequila is alcohol, alcohol kills germs! TA DA!!!! (so ok, flu is a virus, not a germ) Echineacha & goldensealroot build up your immune system, take a few with a shot, then disinfect your hands with a tequila rub. That should keep you healthy & happy!

OMG! I've been running all day and didn't turn on the puter till 5:30. I had the usual spam but the new twist is that you can get viagra AND TAMIFLU from their online pharmacies! Wow, you can keep the flu down while you get it up!

Debby, Rita,

You people are GENIUS!!

I drink Margaritas by the pitcherfull -- I am SURELY immune.



The uproar all started when the folks in Mexico counted every case of pneumonia and every pneumonia-related death as being related to swine flu. This turned out to be totally wrong, and they have had to revise the death toll down from hundreds to something around twenty, and the number of flu cases from hundreds into tens of thousands. This compares more than favorably with the annual human impact of the regular flu season in the U.S.
It is not a descendent of the flu from 1918, and does not have the genetic mutation that made that flu such a killer. The chief danger would be if it went off and acquired some weird mutation and came back at us in a big way later, but scientists are already slogging away to prepare for any such eventuality. Still and all, the best defense is good old preventative health: get enough sleep, eat your vegetables, exercise sensibly, take our President's advice to cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands often. The chief value of those flimsy little masks is to keep you from putting your fingers in your nose or mouth . . . but if it makes you feel better to wear one if there are a lot of cases in your area, then do. Meanwhile, I'm telling my patients who are at any sort of risk to come in and have acupuncture and herbal medicine to strengthen their immune system.

Hijack from two days back:
Tom, Lisa, I've been shopping for a new-used vehicle lately, and accidentally fell madly in love with a candy-apple red X3 with tan leather seats. As it is twice my current affordable range, it will likely be an unrequited love . . . but, love, nonetheless. Hope you've found the tires, Lisa.

Lisa, in response to your hijack: we just bought a ten-year-old Nissan Frontier pickup on Saturday.

It's a striking shade of magenta (or deep pink). Ahem. We've had one before, a red one, and I have to say I have missed Praise The Truck more than I have missed Ziggy The Bimmer. Yes, it was close, but still . . . 4'x8' plywood? Concrete blocks? The stuff of Real Life? No contest.

You may not think you're a pick-up truck person. Think again, save the money. You may have a whole different level of fun than you've ever had before.

Sarah may not agree, but then again, she might. And I hope she got her tires.

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