The news media always trot out the Spanish flue of 1918 and the millions that died. One of the textbooks I use places the number at 20 million, the paper last week said 57 million died world wide. Then they mention the Hong Kong Flu and Asian flu in the 60's and 70's where the number was 2.5 million world wide. The other number thrown out is that every year 35 thousand die in the US every year from the normal, common variety flu.
What all this increased attention on the boogeyman flu says there are good things happening in making people aware of infectious diseases. That washing hands often, or cleaning them with anti-bacterial foam, gel, wipes or spray is what we should do all the time, not just when there's a panic.
The down side, is that when this is all over, and it turns out to not be nearly as bad as predicted the general public will become cynical and shrug off all the precautions they've been using.
Prudent precautions need to be taken all the time: washing hands often, keeping counter tops and other surfaces wiped down, getting exercise to keep your immune system working properly, seeing a doctor if you get a high fever with a cold (if you can get in to see him/her within two weeks).
Closing an entire school district of 80,000 because the state had 26 confirmed cases? I don't know seems a little over the top for me.
Monday I get ten e-mails from the school nurse about this flu. I spent about fifteen minutes in all my classes explaining what I'd read in the paper over the weekend. I have students bring in cleaning wipes as their school supplies every fall. I passed out plenty of wipes had them wipe down the desk top, the metal frame and their hands, which I tell them every fall they should do as a matter of course throughout the year. Monday they listened. By Wednesday a few students would come in get a wipe and clean their desk. Today every class comes in and cleans their desks and wipes their hands. I'm getting low on wipes, but I think it's a good thing. If nothing else I'm not having to clean off graffiti.
It has reminded me of college. With only a thousand students at Wayland almost everyone would go to the SUB which had a snack bar. You could always tell which students were taking micro-biology. Most everyone would come in sit down with their order and eat. m-b students would wash their hands, clean the table, clean the chairs, cover the food exposed to air with napkins and were very fun to watch. By the next semester they were over their germ phobia and would be back to normal.
I do hope this "sky-is-falling-in" panic taking place doesn't turn us into Mr. Monk's, at the same time since I started watching that show I have kept my hands much cleaner.