Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Washing Our Hands of the Swine Flu

H1N1, by any other name, is still Swine Flu

Times change: besides nothing to fear but fear itself, there is now Swine Flu. It’s also the last thing we want for an epitaph, along with “Fell into an outhouse and drowned.” Use of the more scientific term, “H1N1” is hardly a step up, but might gain cachet in a future world of robots.
Other than that, it’s been a nutty bug season anyway: we were told of its coming, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, that vaccines would be in on time, then they weren’t, and now we add the Big One to all regular flus to which we are heir this season of year.

But please do not overrate fear. Regardless what people say, they love to be scared out of their wits. I rest my case on the popularity of totally gross and bloody fare at movies and on TV, which now long outlast Halloween and the leftovers of which genre are yet to open at your local theater. Soon they may squeeze out Christmas flicks, and lead right into the New Year–unless Disney can morph Santa into a child molester with a chain saw.

What we don’t like is unexpected fear, like being grabbed suddenly from behind by the office pest. Snuggling into a theater seat with popcorn and coke, however, and knowing what you’re in for, gets you ready for anything–though you’d never, ever want what happens on the screen to happen to you.

This may have something to do with those who seem totally unafraid of swine flu. I submit, however, that for them it goes beyond that. They don’t want themselves or their kids inoculated; they’ll take their chances, thank you. That’s a huge roll of the dice, of course, and they may live (or die) to regret it.

What I hear in such words is a distrust of government. The Big, Bad Government made the vaccine, and it is a pox unto itself and the foulest of all vermin. Rejecting its role in our health care is their idea of free-market living: totally clueless about science and medicine, they still know what’s best for themselves and their families. So let germs and viruses flow like stocks on the Big Board: avoid buying the ones you don’t like, and you won’t get them; invest in those that you deem, in your infinite wisdom, to be least virulent and place your order–who knows, the right mix (like a stock fund), rather than knock you silly, might turn you into a Super(wo)man, resistant to all disease thereafter.

To wit, throw them all up into the air and let God sort them out. The result will make a great 22nd century disaster movie starring us as the hapless chumps.

Such heads are impervious to good sense. At least we hope they wash their hands. Maybe that’s what Pilate was doing; maybe he didn’t care what happened to an unknown, trouble-making Jew; maybe he heard the flu was coming, couldn’t find the antibacterial wash in his toga, and the silly crowd thought he was making a huge religio-political statement.

In the interest of full disclosure, I get flu shots every year, wash my hands with soap (best when for 15 seconds, and often throughout the day) and keep them from eyes and nose (the mouth is actually quite sterile and flu, like HIV, doesn’t survive our saliva)–and I still get Something that totally kicks my derriere. Thankfully, antibac washes are springing up everywhere but what I don’t do, and should, is use them on my keyboard, steering wheel and door knobs.

My wife, being Irish, thinks water is bad for you and that alcohol kills all germs, but for we who are sane, when water isn’t available, supplemental liquids, especially in the Gatorade family, will do. And someone please do something about people who didn’t get the word about sneezing into kleenexes or arms: maybe they just want their misery to have company.

Some think antibac washes are no improvement on simple soap, but bacterial infections cause weakened immune systems, allowing viral access to the body, and result in virus-weakened bodies. Only if someone is scheduled for hospitalized surgery should such washes be avoided.
Just know that there are several strands of Influenza A, of which H1N1 is the most dangerous. Many are catching other strands of A, which are closely identical except in intensity, duration and virility.

I’m not trying to practice medicine without a license here, and any medical person please be free to correct me.

Otherwise, thank you for listening. Now please go wash your hands. It’s among the best things you can do, however much you love or hate the government.

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