Friday, May 1, 2009

We're All Going to Die

Well, that's a relief. Mrs Hickory wants me to paint a couple of doors. After reading the Daily Mail I told her there wasn't much point really. However, the WHO and the Mexican Health Ministry suggest that I will end up with a brush in my hand in the near future. Amazing how little they know. I mean, don't they read the Mail?

There seems to be a bit of confusion about this latest route to Armageddon, so here I offer a handy guide to porcine influenza.

What do I have to do to a pig to catch it?
Nothing. Giving one mouth to mouth is probably a bad idea, but then it always has been. It's passed from person to person. Flu viruses are contracted by being spat on, which we do much more than we realize, and by touching our eyes and noses, which we also do far more than we need to. Chops, handburgers and bacon may have all kinds of nasty microorgamisms in them, but they got it from the butcher/waiter/shelfstacker/spotty McKid who just sneezed over them, not from the original pig.

How many Mexicans are dead already?
12. Twelve. XII. A round dozen. The Duke of Edinburgh's number when he turns out for the Lord's Taverners. Gordon Brown's popularity rating. Yes, you heard it correctly. Several hundred (not thousands) are ill, but nearly all are out of danger. There has been one death in the USA and none elsewhere. That number may rise, but probably not very much.

How many people die of flu in an average winter?
About 20,000 in the USA. In Britain some 3,000. Staggered? I was.

Why the panic then?
It sells newspapers and makes politicians feel important. Also, it's a new mutation, probably someone who already had flu picked up a pig strain and they shared DNA, mutating into something new that can be transmitted between humans. Until the strength of the virus is known (and it's not looking very strong at the moment) and until its response to vaccines and medicines is assessed (not too clear yet but probably good) it is wise to be cautious. But it's worth remembering that the real problem of flu, and other highly contagious disease (unless they kill you) is economic, which is also why they are trying to find a name without pig in it.

Will putting an old handkerchief/surgical mask/silk YouSave triangle by Yves Saint Laurent over my face save my life?
It will stop people spitting in your face, and stop you spitting on others, as well as stopping you touching yourself all the time. In many places (where there are a lot of people) it's worth doing anyway, especially in winter, but most of us don't bother.

I have no medical background, but I know where to find reliable information. The press, apparently, do not, even though that's supposed to be the point of them.

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