Thursday, April 30, 2009
Before you panic
I see Joe "foot in mouth" Biden has unintentionally put the fear of god in everyone this morning. Stop for a sec and do a little research or better yet I've done most of it for you. I wanted to post news articles from the time but they are a little hard to copy and paste as they were reproduced from microfilm. I went back to newspaper articles of 1918 to see what was really going on at the time. Was it bad and did it spread like wildfire? Yes on both counts, but there was a difference from then and now. Back then the sanitary conditions were not what they are now. And the most important difference was that they had no antibiotics back then. From what I've read most of the people back then died of bacterial infections that were secondary to the actual flu. The "grippe" as it was called was not the primary cause. Bacterial pnumonia and "consumption" (that would be a bacterial form of TB) were the main causes. With the population having discharges from both ends and poor sanitation (they only had the old fashioned lye soap back then) you can see why it was so contagious and deadly. To give you an idea my dear old grandma before she died told me what life was like back then. They didn't have many cars then so people got where they were going by horse drawn wagons or carriages. There was the emissons from that mode of transportation that wasn't too pleasant but more importantly horses being living things died and it wasn't uncommon to note a steed laying in the street for days until the sanitation department came by to remove the remains.
One last item comes to mind from that period. A doctor from San Francisco wired a doctor in New York and ask him about the situation. How should we prepare for this emergency? The NY doctor wrote back "Build coffins!".
I think we're lucky right now. We have phones and the internet for communications and many antibiotics as well as better sanitation than in the early 1900s. You need to remember that was back when a common cold could kill you.
If you're a bit of a history buff you can go read the articles by going to the Brooklyn Eagle and look through their articles. Just type in influenza in the search.
UPDATE: Watching the CDC and DHS I thought I'd throw in a bit of info that they are not saying. That would be that this flu can be contageous when those infected show no signs of flu. In addition the flu can be contageous up to 7 days after becoming infected. For the agencies to tout how they're putting their emergency plan into effect is nothing more than damage control. They may be able to move Tamiflu around the country but that will do nothing to prevent the spread of the illness. My advice: If you have a low immune system or have young kids or older grandparents keep them away from crowds and public places as much as possible. They could no stop this event anymore than anyone could stop a tornado or hurricane. And as I said before wash your hands and cover your coughs and sneezes. And wipe the grocery cart handle. Now for the nice cheap BLT sandwich mmmmmm.