Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good news, swine flu

As if January wasn't bad enough, on top of the weather, the post-Christmas depression and the lack of money I now understand that Swine Flu has reared its unwelcome (pig) head again. But it feels different this year though, doesn't it; understated almost? Lacking the hype and fanfare that it had last year, despite the fact that the strain of flu is apparently 'every bit as deadly' as it was last year when we were all due to be set upon with Armageddon like consequences.

We're fickle beings aren't we - humans I mean? We treat these diseases in the same way that we treat fads, getting all excited about them when they're all new and shiny but then, as they fall off the front page and imbed they lose their edge and we lose interest - like myspace. I'm not condemning us or our society or anything, I just think that most of us have quite short attention spans – we all remember Roaul Moat because of the Gazza thing, but I struggle to recall the name of the Taxi driver in Cumbria who shot all those people. And he was probably worse.

I do not aim to interpret the human condition, but we do have a tendency to react to these things in the same way. I personally have no memory of anyone I know falling victim to the CJD 'outbreak' some years back; however I do remember the fear resulting in everyone avoiding beef like it was selling the Big Issue as we allowed the UK livestock farming industry to become crippled. Conversely, and interestingly, we never really got that into SARS in a big way, did we? It always seemed like someone else’s problem. But the images of those cute little commuters in masks had us all little scared, right? But being scared then was nothing like what its like to be scared today. We barely knew how good we even had it back in the time before ‘international’ terrorism. International Terrorism (not to be confused with domestic Terrorism like the IRA and that lot) changed the world and overnight we all became suspicious of our neighbours, or friends, colleagues and anyone foolish enough to run with a rucksack on.

I guess it's natural that we should be fearful of the skies, most people feel vulnerable enough in the air without the added anxiety of becoming a senseless death on a Jihad suicide mission. This may be why Aviation or 'Bird flu' captured our imagination and was so frightening? Bird flu was a weird one for me, though I didn't really understand it, by God weren’t we all terrified of it! And now, nothing - I mean it barely gets a mention despite the fact there has been as many 'outbreaks' of bird flu this year as there have been of swine flu - but they were in Egypt so who cares, right?

Swine flu has been the most relevant of the modern scaremonger diseases for me, partly due to the fact that I'm that little bit older now and have a certain degree of awareness these days but also because I'm told I should be frightened of contracting it. Apparently swine flu doesn't discriminate on the grounds of age, so people young and old are as at risk as each other. I'm not frightened though, see there seems to some wonderful immunity I possess which restricts me from getting the sort of undiagnosable and unverifiable ailments which automatically justify having to take a week off work, no questions asked to 'stay at home, take care of yourself by keeping yourself hydrated, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep'. I don’t doubt swine flu is horrible and I have met some of those unfortunate enough to contract it, however, perhaps coincidentally it did seem to affect a lot of the same people who were ‘snowed in’ during the 4 inches of snow which brought the UK to a ‘stand still’ last year. Just saying.

So, despite already having a death toll in 2011, swine flu appears to be old news and with recession, job losses, the new coalition government making a balls of everything it would appear that there isn’t a place for swine flu this year in our newspapers, our hearts or in our minds anymore. Next.

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