Rhume for improvement

Posted on March 31st, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

I know that I run the risk of being accused of being one of those celebrities who don’t stand behind a cause unless it affects them personally. The general line of questioning goes: Would Reagan have stood so vehemently behind Alzheimer’s research if he wasn’t starting to get a bit sketchy himself? Would Chris Reeve have been so supportive of stem cell research if it hadn’t been for his own accident? Doesn’t this mean they’re just self-serving pricks who don’t really care about moving the cause forward except when it comes to them?

I say “hell no!”  on their behalf, and and also for me by way of corollary (pure logic, baby). There’s a million and one things to get behind, from diseases, to famine, to war. Expecting anyone to get behind them all of them really just mirrors the decrier’s own lack of sanity. It’d be easy enough to clam up anyone who decides to go down that path by scaling the question  down to pleb level and asking which local charities they themselves haven’t contributed to. The only correct follow-up to their answer is, “well why not, jerk face?”  — that usually pacifies everyone.

Oh, and also, I’m not a celebrity. So with righteous aplomb, I continue.

I have the flu. If it isn’t the flu, some bacterium is a master of disguise. I have all the classic symptoms; chills, intermittent fever, headache, sneezing, snotting, and otherwise expelling pus. I’m writing this from my convalescence couch (eh, who am I kidding, by convalescence I mean just regular ole’ life. I just like alliterations).

“Oh, big whoop,” I hear you say, “everyone’s had the flu. My four-year-old niece doesn’t blog about it when she’s sick; what’s so special about you?”

What a loaded question, dear  imaginary interlocutor. Let me start by casting doubt on your niece’s ability to write a multi-paragraph expository work of any kind. That is all. I guess I shouldn’t have started that without a second point. Oh well.

My aim wasn’t to heap aspersions on your nieces or nephews anyway,  but rather to draw attention to the fact that Influenza is probably the world’s deadliest communicable disease and, since it’s affecting me, to try to encourage you to do something about it.

The statistics are a bit fuzzy at the upper end of the scale because Influenza is lumped into the “Lower respiratory infections” group (basically lung problems). A bit of reading reveals that yes, the flu can cause this type of complication, but not always. Usually this happens in the elderly or infirm, but there’s always one variant or another that has the ability to be more profoundly harmful to everyone.

On top of all this, apparently the influenza group hasn’t budged from its number one spot in the charts for decades. H5N1, the bird flu; that scared quite a few people because of the possibility of another pandemic, but once all the birds were dead, people pretty much forgot about it. Getting all lathered up does nobody any good, but there should be a level and ongoing discussion on the topic of Influenza in general (including all its variants, not just the few in the spotlight).

The government is quick to point out that flu vaccines are not entirely effective (roughly 80%), in staving off infections. This stems from the virus’ ability to evolve and change outfits before going out on the town.

The virus essentially wears a chemical mask which it uses to sneak by our body’s bouncers and get in. By the time the bouncers realize what’s happened, the virus has already taken control of the bar.

Vaccines work by providing the door security with photos of the virus’ newest disguises, but that 20% miss rate indicates that two in ten virii still manage to sneak by undetected. The other problem is that, in a typical season, we provide the bouncer with snapshots of only three of the most common viral disguises (which are many and growing each year). If any one of those variants decided to bring a weapon, that would really suck.

In other words, flu vaccines are a stopgap solution to a potentially deadly and widespread problem.

Academia and government are definitely concerned over this, but I don’t remember the last time someone marched up Yonge street waving a “United against the flu” placard. Don’t remember the last time I saw that for HIV/AIDS neither, come to think of it.

We need to get out there and rally against this horrible, horrible disease. It’s making me not enjoy Ren & Stimpy and I can’t taste hot dogs. I can’t imagine how it could get worse, but apparently it can. The flu must be stopped now.

Please, for my sake.

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