Fine. I’ll write a post about swine flu. Or should I get on board with the effort to save hog farmers everywhere and call it the H1N1 virus? Regardless of what it’s called, I’ve done little but think about it for the last three days.
No, I’m not a hypochondriac. I’m a public school administrator. We’ve been fielding calls from worried parents, meeting with the local health department, and crafting communications for our mass phone notification system, website, and weekly school-to-home folders. And, of course, checking the web regularly while reviewing our pandemic flu plan and putting the various pieces into action as the WHO and CDC raise their alert levels.
Fortunately, we currently have no confirmed cases of this flu in our state. That’s likely to change soon though, in my estimation. It takes around 8 days for the health department to first type a virus, determine it doesn’t match the known forms, send it off to the CDC for them to match to this new virus, and then get the results back. So, we could have a case or cases and not know it yet. Our local health department now recommends that schools be closed for seven days in the event of even one confirmed case of swine flu, and for seven more days upon each subsequent confirmed case.
And, I’ll admit, I’m not going to try to stand in the way of our district following the recommendations of the health department. With the hyper-focused reporting of this event, we’d likely have few kids actually show up for school if we didn’t close once a confirmed case was announced. But, all this makes little sense to me.
- this virus has affected far fewer Americans than the typical seasonal flu
- those who are affected in this country are recovering well, typically at home
- we have diseases like mono and strep (just ask me, I can tell you all about those) and the typical flu that spread in schools all the time, and we don’t close for them unless we’ve got so many students affected that it doesn’t make sense to hold classes
- 36,000 people per year die of complications from seasonal flu, yet lots of us don’t even take it seriously enough to get a flu shot.
With all that said, I have to ask myself why all the concern and suddenly extreme proactivity on the part of the CDC and state health department. I can only point a finger toward the media and the 24-hour news cycle. It’s a potential pandemic! Everyone join in the mass hysteria!
Because it’s better than worrying about the economy, or war, or global warming, I guess.
I’m off to try to put all of this out of my mind and avoid thinking about the fact that tomorrow I have to identify essential personnel to maintain operations in the event of a district closure–that and identify who will replace me if I die. And on that note, I’ll leave everyone with these thoughts: Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you sneeze.
This PSA brought to you by LSM.