Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A US death from swine flu

It has been announced today. Not a good development. Advice on what to do comes from the Department of Health and Human Services, which is telling me to stock up on supplies in case it’s not safe to go out. I read this on Daily Kos this morning, clicked on the link, and yes, there it was on the government website, the following script for a public service announcement:

Health officials are concerned about a new influenza virus of swine origin that’s spreading from person to person. Officials are acting to combat this threat, but the outbreak might grow. So be prepared.

Store a two-week supply of food and water. Have two weeks of your regular prescription drugs at home. Keep health supplies on hand, including pain relievers and cold medicines.

For more details, visit or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

A message from HHS.

Have you heard it on your favorite radio station?

By coincidence I’m seeing one of my doctors this afternoon and will be asking for his input.

Stray thought intrudes: It’s great to see the powers rise up all over the world to deal with this public health threat. Would that we’d decide to tackle gun violence with equal resolve.

As in an anti-flu campaign, we’d acknowledge at the start that people will die of this because it’s a tough bug and some people are old and weak and some are young and weak. That still leaves us responsible to try to reduce the danger as much as possible. It is costly in human life, thwarted hopes and economic stability. Aren’t guns and flu similar?

Read some of the costs in Bob Herbert’s recent column on our culture of blood: 30,000 dead a year in this beloved country (gun suicides included), and non-fatal gunshot wounds are said to be the biggest uninsured cost for emergency rooms. Now, there's a way to try to reduce unproductive health spending.

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