Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hype? or Real?

Another month leaves us in its wake today as April has only a few hours left. There is one thing about April that we will long remember and will be mentioned many times in the future. Tuesday, the temperature crossed 90 degrees for the first time in recorded weather history.

Yesterday then came and we were brought back to reality. Sure. It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine and reasonably pleasant temperatures. A little wind kept it in the cool range, but it brought us back to the reality of April. Now we’re wondering way May will bring beginning tomorrow.

The senior fitness program at the PT center this morning treated me with great respect. I’m happy. I’ll be adding something next week, either weight, distance (stationary bike), or a new routine. This was a good day.

The swine flu has reached Maine. There have been at least three confirmed cases in two different sections of the state. Now called the H1N1 flu, I guess because the pork industry objected to the term swine flu, Maine is rushing into speed mode to fight it.

Gov. Baldacci has told us the state has ordered several thousand doses of a medicine to help fight the flu as it strikes. I think I heard the head of Maine’s Center for Disease Control, Dr. Dora Mills, has asked the Maine Legislature to fund the vaccine so the state doesn’t get caught up in the strings that federal money attaches. The figure I heard yesterday was in the $3-million dollar range.

The governor has signed an executive order declaring a civil emergency to give the state more control on reacting to outbreaks anywhere in the state. He has ordered two schools, a Kennebunk elementary school and an Arundel Day Care Center, to close because of suspected flu in a student in each school. He doesn’t want it to spread throughout the communities. So far no other schools have been closed, but the governor and the head of the Department of Education has urged faculty, parents, others to be on strict precautionary lookout for signs of the flu.

Among other recommendations the governor suggests parents keep children at home if they show any signs of illness. Teachers and other workers have been urged to stay home if they have signs of the flu.

The flu can be deadly. In fact, there have been some deaths linked to it worldwide, mostly in Mexico, but the last time I checked a Mexican boy had died in Texas. But don’t we go through flu epidemics on an annual basis? Seems to me every year we’re all urged to get a flu shot to prevent the flu.

Unfortunately, this year’s flu shot doesn’t appear to work on theH1N1 strain. Nevertheless, since the flu is an annual event which puts hundreds or thousands of people into the sick bed each year, and since it has claimed many lives over the years, I can’t help but wonder if for some reason we aren’t just getting a little too much hype over it this year. In each of the last ten years how many cases of flu have been reported in the U.S.? How many deaths? The latest listing at the CDC is about a hundred in 11 states of reported cases, and only that one death.

I can’t help but wonder if the timing of all this incredible precaution isn’t just more attempts to convince us that only the government can save us from just about everything that happens. I think it’s called dependency. Now I’m not claiming this as fact, you understand. I’m just wondering.

Meanwhile, in Maine, if you would like to learn more about the H1N1 flu, more popular known as the swine flu, you can check out the Maine Center of Disease Control or for national explanations and advice, the federal government’s Center for Disease Control.


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