Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Archive for April 27th, 2008

One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

with 6 comments

My wife and I were sitting on the couch the other evening watching TV. When I got up to get a soda, she noticed what appeared to be a blister on my butt. Immediately I screamed, “Oh no!! It’s Smallpox! It’s Bubonic Plague! I’m gonna die!!!” It turned out to be just a contact lens we thought was lost forever.

My panic attack was probably caused by just having watched Episode 6 of Season I of Deadwood, which was dedicated to the Smallpox epidemic that swept through the town during its infancy, not to mention a general fear of dying from one of the Pandemics we seem to hear so much about these days.

My intention is not to ridicule the seriousness of various ailments in our history. The Black Death killed more than 25,000,000 human beings throughout Europe from 1347 – 1352; an average of 5,000,000 a year, which was 1/3 of the population. One of every three people someone knew at the time keeled over. That’s kind of scary, and kept the Cadaver Patrol quite busy. It is estimated that worldwide up to 50,000,000 people expired from the Spanish Flu of 1918. Probably more people died from that outbreak than smoking. The Asian Flu of 1957-58 caused the death of more than 70,000 in the US. Asian Flu is still around, but hasn’t circulated in humans since 1968. That means if it reels it’s ugly head again, no one under 40 is immune. Pandemics are devastating. Many people die, and many more become seriously ill.

What should we do? Wash our hands more often? Kill our neighbors if they seem ill (or are mowing on our side)? Wear a surgical mask 24 hours a day? What? My suggestion is just “Go with the flow.”

I’m not picking up any dead birds on the street. And, I’m not planning to pal around with any sick chickens (we still don’t know why they cross the road). Avian Flu is real and the most troubling strains start within fowl. My precautions are warranted, because our feathered friends are here on earth to kill us all. Influenza A viruses use wild birds as their host. Unless the virus undergoes Antigenic Shift it is harmless to humans. When it mutates we are at risk.

How many of you get a flu shot every year? And how many of you who felt immune got sick, anyway? I’d venture to guess more than should, considering we tend to believe the inoculation is the shield. Is it really? The immunization contains three strains of flu to protect you. Influenza genes are composed of RNA, rather than DNA, and are more prone to mutation than DNA. When Antigenic Drift occurs after the vaccination, it is ineffective.

Personally, I don’t trust science over viruses. Germs, squiggly things and potentially deadly microorganisms have been around longer than humans, and their ability to adapt to hostile threats is far more superior than our own. Birds evolved from dinosaurs; they were here first. We can’t win.

I just hope Home Depot carries plastic bubbles big enough to cover my house.

With Love,

Bake My Fish