SU students were recently informed about a pair of students infected with Type A influenza, also known as H1N1, and most commonly referred to as “Swine Flu.” Having recently returned to the US from the southern hemisphere, where countries were worst affected by this virus due to their winter season, I shrugged the email off as just another random fact of the day. The next day in class, a student walked in, sniffing and with red eyes. She told everyone she just had a cold, yet another student still asked her to stay seated at the far end of the room, just in case she had “the plague”. This reference to Type A influenza emphasizes the way most students feel at Southwestern.
Basically, the erroneous idea is that if you acquire the virus, you will die, and you will take everyone around you with you. And judging from all the sensationalist news broadcasts regarding Swine Flu, no one can be blamed for thinking of Type A influenza as another version of the plagues that exterminated most of the world’s population throughout the middle ages.
So to decipher the truth and determine just how serious Swine Flu is, this reporter has decided to consult the experts, in this case the Center for Disease Control. They have a website that focuses on the H1N1 virus, and here are some very important facts found on their website .
As with regular seasonal flu, there are people who are at most risk when contracting the H1N1 virus, specifically “children younger than five years, pregnant women, and any person with chronic medical conditions.” Not surprisingly, about 70 per cent of those who have been hospitalized because of the H1N1 virus are people with these pre-existing conditions.
Basically, the lessons are: (1) If you suspect you have the Swine Flu, do NOT freak out; see your school nurse or your doctor and ask for advice. (2) You should protect yourself by washing your hands, not rubbing your eyes, and disinfecting all surfaces, as well as other additional precautions, at ALL times, because even without H1N1, there are still other diseases out there that you do not want to acquire.