PRO/CON: Swine flu, cause for alarm or just another fleeting scare?

Megan Crothers / Keith Cousins

PRO:  Megan Crothers

Pigs may not be flying, but their respective influenza strains sure are. Daily health is something many individuals take for granted, but when faced with a virus of pandemic potential, health seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongues.

The recent infections of swine flu, originating in Mexico and then spreading to nearby states like California and Texas, have tested the operations of the Center for Disease Control and captured worldwide attention.

So far, there have been 40 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States. That is 40 too many. There should have been more drastic measures taken to protect U.S. citizens. How are we supposed to feel safe and protected when the CDC treats an unknown virus with unknown capabilities with paper masks and run-of-the-mill antiviral drugs?

In all reality, the CDC appears to be working very diligently on the swine flu crisis. There just needs to be more comprehensive efforts to alert the public and to take all possible precautions. This is a new strain of influenza, and for all we know, it could have a 28-day incubation period that later results in an extreme zombie uprising.

There is too much that we don’t know, too much gray area, to act nonchalantly. There is always the “what if” factor, especially in a situation of infectious disease, and we need to be prepared. It’s not paranoia. It’s not hypochondriacs’ overbearing concern. It is the terrifying new outcomes of an unfamiliar situation.

Influenza is a tricky virus, especially in cases of strains originating in different species, such as pigs. This is because the average human would have no previous immunity resulting from previous infection or vaccination. These new strains would then be able to spread rapidly and infect large numbers of people.

What if this was the beginning stage of a new strain of Ebola, and we had been treating it like other Biosafety Level 2 viruses? While that is probably a bit extreme, as Ebola is an exceptionally serious virus, influenza still carries deadly possibilities.

The “Asian Flu” pandemic, which lasted from 1956-1958, was a strain of influenza that originated in China, most likely from wild ducks. It eventually reached the U.S. and killed an estimated 69,800 people. Swine flu could be no different, it could even be worse.

People are currently being told to avoid traveling to Mexico. That’s about as effective as your parents telling you not to sneak out of the house. If people want to go to Mexico and down a few margaritas, no warning words from the disease prevention bullies are going to stop them. Is anyone really assuring that people don’t go and return with a few microscopic buddies named Swine and Flu?

Perhaps we need medical screening at international borders. We need to put a temporary stop to international travel without proper medical examination. The point is, we do not know enough about swine flu to make assumptions, and we should be able to count on the CDC to properly and effectively protect us from all new viruses, no matter how docile they appear.

CON:  Keith Cousins – Let nature do its thing

Every other month there is some new and deadly disease that will supposedly ravage the world and leave the population decimated. The latest incarnation is the “bird flu.” Wait no, it’s apparently the “swine flu” this time. While these catchy hot-button diseases make for great Dateline specials, they do little more than create a society of frightened individuals.

First and foremost, the number of outbreaks in America is currently recorded as 40. Those 40 people have already been hospitalized and are fully recovered, according to the Center for Disease Control. On top of that, the CDC issued a travel advisory urging tourists not to travel to Mexico. So now if you do travel to Mexico, you will apparently either succumb to swine flu or get killed by the drug cartels.

All this does is create a society that is so concerned with the latest health scare that they forget about the true diseases that are actually ravaging our world. Currently, 33.2 million people in the world are living with AIDS, and 5,700 people die everyday from that disease. There still is no cure, yet we as a country are in a panic because 40 people were hospitalized and treated for a new type of flu.

Let nature do its thing. The flu has been around awhile, and just because some new and scary form of the virus has manifested itself does not mean that the second Black Plague is upon us. It is a tragedy that people in countries such as Mexico have died from this curable and treatable outbreak – it has been confirmed that 20 people died already from the swine flu. Although it doesn’t have “disease of the week” honors, over a million people die annually from malaria, another curable disease.While it may make great television and help sell surgical masks, we as a society need to not be so quick to embrace and be terrified by these so-called new threats to our health. Instead, we should focus on the diseases and epidemics that are truly ravaging our world, and work to eliminate them.


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