Thursday, April 30, 2009

H1N1 (Swine Flu) Update and What We Should Do

Before I let you know what I think about the current H1N1 problem (Swine Flu) from not only a scientific point of view but also from a spiritual point of view and the point of view of a pragmatic problem solver, I will first update you on the current status of the situation, as reported by the WHO (World Health Organization):

• The WHO (World Health Organization) has raised the alert level to Phase 5 (as of today, 4/30/2009). For the latest alert phase by the WHO, go to
• There has been 109 laboratory confirmed cases in the U.S. including one death (of an infant) (as of April 30, 2009 according to the WHO and CDC (Center for Disease Control)
• Just to put things in perspective, in the 2007 – 2008 flu season, there were 39,287 lab confirmed cases of the seasonal flu in the U.S. with 83 deaths (from CDC data)

Here’s what I think about the current H1N1 outbreak. First of all, I do not fear it. With that said, I think that it is necessary to inform the public on the part of the WHO, CDC, and the media. Although there has been a lot of criticism of the media from bloggers and others, I believe the media does play an important role. However, I understand where the critics are coming from. I myself expressed frustration of the discrepancies reported by most of the corporate controlled mass media when they reported 149 deaths from this H1N1 flu in Mexico early this week (when there have still only been 7 confirmed deaths attributable to H1N1 in Mexico according to the WHO).

The fact that the WHO has raised the alert level of this virus to Phase 5 might be alarming to people. Phase 5 means that there is human-to-human spread of the virus in at least 2 countries in one WHO region while most countries are not affected at this stage. However, “phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short”.

I can already hear the critics complaining about this high level of alert. However, if we put ourselves in the shoes of the officials and experts at the WHO and CDC, I think it’s absolutely necessary to plan and prepare to fight this creature as a tiger, even though it may seem like a kitten right now (as the Chinese maxim goes).

In comparison with how many people are infected with the seasonal flu and killed by the seasonal flu every year, the current H1N1 outbreak does seem like a kitten at this point. Just knowing of all the people in the U.S. who’ve contracted this H1N1 virus (or swine flu) and recovered really tells me that there’s no cause for fear, yet. I also believe that the recovery of most of the H1N1 cases in the U.S. might be due to prompt medical treatment, with available antiviral drugs (Tamiflu and Relenza). If you've read the first-hand witness comments from Mexico, they have a problem of lack of medicines, as even the doctors there mentioned to BBC.

The caution, preparation, and expressed alert from the government and WHO officials and experts are still necessary because of the unpredictability of these viruses to change (as the experts know). It is possible for this virus to change or mutate to a form that can kill a lot more people. Although this is possible, I don’t think even the experts know if this is probable, which is why they have to make preparations to fight this like a tiger although it may look like a kitten to some right now.

With all that said, my advice from a scientific, as well as a spiritual and pragmatic problem solver’s point of view is as follows:

1. Pray. We need to recruit the power of collective prayer to ask God to not allow this H1N1 outbreak get worst.

2. If you have symptoms of influenza, go see a doctor and stay away from everyone else. (Stay home other than visiting a doctor, and wear a surgical mask – so that you don’t infect your loved ones. Be sure to wash the dishes and utensils you use thoroughly with dishwashing soap and water). If the doctor determines that you have H1N1 (swine flu) or the seasonal flu, they should prescribe either Tamiflu or Relenza. Symptoms of influenza include:
- Sneezing , coughing, and/or sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Fever
- Backaches and other body aches
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Headache

3. We need to practice prevention – which includes habits that we should have anyway to be healthy and fit:
- Eat healthy and get enough sleep.
- Exercise and stay fit. (Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you use a public gym.)
- Wash your hands with soap and water whenever you have a chance (especially before you eat, before and after you use the bathroom, and after you’ve used any public facilities where you’ve come in contact with surfaces that are touched by many (such as poles in a public bus).
- Do not touch your ears, nose, or mouth.

Although the message is serious and should be taken seriously in this video, I just couldn't help but laugh hysterically.

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