Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's Old is New

Being enamored of microscopic bugs, I'm always interested when I hear there is a completely new virus ready to take mankind out of business. But swine flu?  Is that really new?  I recall the flu vaccine issues from decades ago where people became ill from the swine flu vaccine and died.  It's the reason I hear over and over from patients who refuse the vaccine each year.  In addition, the great flu pandemic of 1918 was swine influenza so you see, it isn't really new.  The news (I know) is stating that this is just the beginning and perhaps this flu will go away for 18 weeks, then it'll return with a vengeance.  Let the fear mongering begin.

The Great Influenza, by John Barry, was one of the best books I've ever read about the flu outbreak in 1918 and its impact on modern medicine, war and life.  His descriptions of what could only be SIRS and MODS were riveting.  People would wake up feeling a little ill in the morning and without appropriate care, would be dead by late afternoon or the very next day.  Communities overwhelmed by the sick could not provide care for the acutely ill.  This book also touched on the makings of vaccine that while not a new thing, were incredibly amazing. 

As a nurse, I've been watching the news with interest and have a few points I'd like to clarify:

  • Nobody has mentioned HAND WASHING as a means of prevention.  Do it.  Often.
  • The news (I know) has been telling people that if you have a fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, but especially a fever, to call your doctor in a week if you aren't better so you can get Tamiflu.  I'm here to tell you that Tamiflu works, but waiting a week to get help is too long.  Read my second paragraph above.
  • For the sake of everyone else, if you are sick, with the exception of going to the doctor, please stay at home in your bed.  The rest of us don't want your cooties.
  • Leave the swine alone- this outbreak is not their fault.  It's not like they created it, they may harbor it, but they get sick from it too. 
I am not making light of the issue when I say that I'm awed by the stamina of viruses and bacterium, because the ability of microorganisms to adapt and change is truly impressive. If we create drugs to combat these bugs, over time they adapt and become resistant to our efforts. For creatures that don't have brains, they're really a marvel.


Stephanie V said...

Good advice...a little common sense goes a long way. Thanks for this post. BTW, that photo looks like a hooked rug. if it isn't, it could work into a good one.

Rudee said...

Stephanie, it's a negative stained swine flu particle seen with an electron microscope-image courtesy of the CDC and wiki commons. The pattern would make a pretty rug.

Rositta said...

He he, maybe Canada should close it's borders, LOL. But seriously, I agree washing hands is the key. They do say it a lot on the Canadian news channels. We up here in T-dot learned that through our SARS crisis. As to the flu vaccine, I had one in October and it didn't save me from getting the flu at Christmas. I have some Tamiflu from when my Mom was still alive but I'm not sure if it's still good. Rudee, I think because just about every cleaning product these days pushes the anti bacterial aspect we are loosing a lot of our immunity and ability to fight off diseases...ciao

Anonymous said...

Although we've never met in person, somehow I find you a much more trustworthy source of information in this regard than the fearmongers on TV.

The same fearmongers who work for the Redundant Dept. of Redundancy when they refer to "global pandemic."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the advice. Have only suffered flu, mildly, twice in my life but have had endless colds! I think my husband has permanent swine flu. His snoring is getting worse!

CJ xx

Brenda said...

Great advice Rudee. I do wish folks would wash their hands more often. I wash mine probably way too much. If I start getting some of these symptoms I am coming back here and rereading your advice. I have been having a headache just about everyday. You think I should go get my head scanned. I have always wanted to know what my brain may look like.

Rudee said...

Brenda, you should at least tell your doctor of your headaches. If nothing else, you may be suffering unnecessarily.

I don't want my head scanned. There would be proof of the hamster running on the wheel and my family would never let me live that down.

Rudee said...

CJ-you made me choke on my coffee.

Amy-I just love those folks, don't you?

Rositta-it's probably too late. I'm betting too many Canadians have been to Mexico recently.

Kathleen said...

Cool picture, Rudee...I'm fascinated with "bugs" too. Thanks for keeping people in the know.

Yep...that little bugger truly is a novel virus...they're calling it swine flu but it's a quadruple reassortment, with genetic bits from avian, swine, and human virus.

No one's immune, though it's sensitive to Tamiflu at this point.

It may fizzle out, may be the big one, no one knows yet.

Best to keep a cool head, listen to trustworthy sources of info such as and Rudee.

And Rudee is so right about the handwashing!!!!

flydragon said...

I've heard that wine is just as effective as Tamiflu and since it is more widely available.....or maybe I just made that up.

The Crusty Crone said...

I remember the last time we were suppose to get a pandemic of swine flu.... but no pandemic. Like waiting for the world to collapse in 2000, remember that fear factor. Y2K? (weak smile... but I didn't believe it would happen except to maybe small businesses. Big business won't let anything screw with their money.)

I heard this morning there were 16 people in the US who had swine flu. That's 16 out of a population of over 300 billion people. Yeah. Pandemic.

Fear. It sells almost as well as sex.

Ruth said...

Couple of years back I got my head scanned for headaches - they found NOTHING !

Neck seriousy out causing it all, some good physiotherapy helps a lot.

Washing hands is the best advice to prevent Flu etc of any sort and keep away from people if unwell

Gail said...

Office of Emergency managment has been notified and the big plan moved into place this week. Along with law enforcement, couny health and all the other agencies are haveing meeting and getting prepare to conquer the pig bug.

I thing it might help to close the borders.

Rose said...

The picture looks like something that was crocheted. Good advice on both the handwashing and the Tamiflu medication; I used it when I had the flu a couple of years ago. Hope it doesn't keep spreading but I just read it's in NYC now.

Anonymous said...

One obvious sign of the swine flu is uncontrollable squealing and dry hooves.

See your local vet/physician if these signs occur...I finally have a health related tip that the knitting knurse was not aware of!!!!

debra said...

Anonymous forgot to add the desire to roll in mud puddles.

Pinneguri said...

As a nurse too I can't say how much sense it was in this post. Well written!

Djinn said...

Thanks for this post!

Can you believe Egypt started slaughtering all their pigs BEFORE they even had ONE case of swine flu? *sigh*