What I learned about swine flu


Ever since Monday I’ve been meaning to share some things I learned about swine flu at Rotary on Monday. Dr. Stephen L. Shelton from Palmetto Health spoke from a wealth of expertise on the H1N1 virus. (Over at the hospital they call him Boss Hog.)

Some of it was highly technical, such as the diagram of the virus that he used to explain why it’s called H1N1. I’m afraid that sort of went in one ear and out the other. Other parts were sort of obvious, such as a list of typical flu symptoms, or what to do if you get it (drink fluids, avoid contact with others, stay home for 24 hours after fever is gone).

More useful were some of the slides in his presentation, such as the one I photographed above about how to tell when your child needs to go to the emergency room rather than simply be treated at home.

Beyond that, the following points really stood out in my mind:

  • You probably know the signs of flu (fever, cough, body aches, sore throat, runny or stuffed nose, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting), but how do you know you’ve really got it, as opposed to a cold or some such? By the rapid onset of the symptoms. If one hour you’re fine and an hour later it’s like you’ve been hit by a truck, it’s the flu.
  • And if it’s the flu, and you’re getting it now, the odds are 99 to 1 that it’s swine flu, because the regular seasonal variety hasn’t arrived yet.
  • Most swine flu victims are children so far — and they started getting it when school started.
  • Because there is so little immunity in the population, if you are exposed to swine flu, you will almost certainly get sick. This is not true of the more common seasonal flu bugs.
  • Interestingly, the one subset of the population that has some immunity to H1N1 is folks over 55. So for a change, older people are actually the lowest-priority group needing to get the swine flu shots when they arrive (and Dr. Shelton swore this was not a “death panel” plot to get rid of old folks). The highest priority? Pregnant women. Having that baby crowding the diaphragm really makes them vulnerable to a lower-lung infection.
  • However, old folks should still, as usual, get the regular, garden-variety flu shot, if they haven’t already. It helps boost immunity for the other kind.

Anyway, those are the points that made an impression on me.

By the way, for a video version of Dr. Shelton’s presentation, follow this link.

10 thoughts on “What I learned about swine flu

  1. Lee Muller

    Swine flu is another reason to lock down the borders, round up illegals, and deport them.

    Make everyone come through a new equivalent of Ellis Island, and be proven healthy and disease free before entering the country.

  2. kbfenner

    Also pregnant women’s immune system is wonky.

    If you are high risk and get the flu, DO seek medical care. This includes having asthma and diabetes. Hypertension is not implicated though.

  3. kbfenner

    Why make an exception for disease?

    Obama has not made good on his promise yet to do something about Gitmo and the habeas-less corpuses…and SNL noted so trenchantly….

  4. Brad Warthen

    Kathryn, Obama is a pragmatist, as I noted shortly after his election.

    He’d like to close Gitmo. McCain wanted to close it as well. But McCain would have run up against the same problem as Obama: There’s no other good place to put these people. And you can’t just let them go.

    Here’s the thing about Gitmo: It was a good solution at the time, when we were bringing back all sorts of Taliban and al Qaeda types back from the rout of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a better place — it’s secure as hell, and there’s nowhere to go if you DID escape. Furthermore — and this is the thing that bothers legal minds of a civil liberties bent — it’s a sort of legal limbo, which is a good match for people captured in such an unconventional conflict.

    But long term, you have to wrestle with what to do with these people that is in keeping with our national ideals as well as our self-preservation. You also have to deal with the fact that even if Gitmo IS a great place to put them, it’s a diplomatic/public relations disaster internationally. You want to defuse it as an issue internationally, if you are a pragmatist.

    But that same pragmatist runs up against the fact that there is no simple “what next?”

  5. Lee Muller

    Obama is a pragmatic socialist. He realizes he only has one shot to destroy as much of the American economy and culture as he can.

  6. kbfenner

    The point is habeas corpus. Due process. You need to sort out the serious bad guys from the others.We know how to deal with serious bad guys. I hear that Gitmo is not particularly secure, compared to federal Supermaxes here–such as the one I visited as a volunteer in Edgefield.

    You also don’t lock people up because of some believed propensity to commit crimes. You have to have evidence of bad acts. Either we have it or we don’t. If we don’t we have to let them go–and follow them closely if we need to. It’s the American way. We don’t lock people up without due process. We don’t lock people up because we think they might do something bad. We lock them up, after due process, because they did something wrong.

    The price of a free society.

  7. Lee Muller

    Every illegal alien is a criminal.

    Then there are the several million who want to come to America only to steal, rob, distribute drugs, run prostitution rings…

    … the 810,000 already being sought on fugitive arrest warrants

    …. the 920,000 convicted fellons currently in US prisons and jails.


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