There has been so much half information, speculation, and panic about the flu. I am more angry at the half information that was being put out my the major news media than I am about anything else.
That do I mean? At the beginning of the outbreak, all we heard is the number of dead, with the toll rising with every passing hour. It was almost an "Andromeda Strain" scenario. The news outlets were producing maps of the world wide outbreak, announcing the numbers of the dead, showing folks with facial masks, bringing on authorities who said that the pandemic is going to happen and we have no way to stop it. I actually had a clerk in the hospital where I work tell me that if she caught the virus she was going to die. Thats what the news media told her anyway. Hospitals were setting up outdoor triage areas to handle the increase the number of patients who were coming in with a runny nose and cough.
And then media says....Oops. Seems that the number of COMFIRMED cases of the H1N1 virus was much smaller than originally stated. Oh, yeah, the cases that had been reported at the beginning of the outbreak....had all recovered. Please note the word had, it's past tense. And then I was hearing reports that the emergency rooms were being overwhemed with the same snotty nosed folks who were afraid of dying from this mysterious virus that was causing a pandemic. We even had a woman come to the ER saying she heard on the news that if anyone thought they had the H1N1 virus, that they could be treated in the ER for free. In LA and Orange Counties, Tamaflu was out of stock. Lots of folks getting the prescription "just in case".
What I haven't heard was any responsibility being taken for only half of the story being given out. Most people don't read newspapers now, all of their news information coming from the 30 second blurbs on the radio and TV. The internet is also a big source of information as well, but as I surfed for more on the flu outbreak, I couldn't find anything that said what to look out for and how to avoid getting sick. Until now.
My husband came down with flu like symptoms 10 days after returning from Mexico. He was there during the initial reported outbreak, but he wasn't in the Mexico City area. I knew that the incubation period for this flu was about 48 hours, so I was not thinking "flu". After 3 days of 103 fevers, I took him to my hospital for treatment. The N95 mask was given to me when I mentioned Mexico, and told "it was for the staff's protection".
Now that the turmoil is dying down, I would like to think that we will have greater public education about the flu, swine or otherwise. I would like to think that we won't be suckered in for what we hear in the media and will dig a little deeper to find "the rest of the story" as the late Paul Harvey said.
Until then, I'll call scares like this job security.