In 2009 the world was caught in the grip of a virus which seemed to spread like wildfire and reach pandemic proportions leaving many members of the public shaken, feeling insecure and fearing that worse was still to come. Swine influenza, or swine or pig flu as it is commonly called, is caused by one of several strains of a virus that is endemic (widespread) in pigs. As if this were not bad enough some strains can mutate into a form that can be passed on to humans. The first to catch the virus are normally people who work with pigs and poultry and whose job invariably brings high levels of exposure to such a strain of virus.
In August 2010, the World Health Organisation issued a declaration stating that the swine flu pandemic was officially over.
And now it appears to be back.
Already a number of deaths have occurred which can be directly linked to H1N1, the swine flu virus. According to the NHS the at-risk groups who should be seeking to get their flu shots are pregnant women, people over 65 and people with certain chronic illnesses like heart or kidney disease.
So just how bad is the situation for each and every one of us individually and what can be done to stop the swine flu and the resulting mass hysteria from spreading?
The experts, and the public, are split on this. There are obviously still a number of factors which have to be taken into account before anyone can safely say why some of the people who caught the flu reacted differently to the virus and why it led to some peoples’ deaths. Has the virus become more aggressive or is it because those affected were genetically disposed to such a hefty or even lethal reaction? Proponents of swine flu vaccinations warn that this is the only real way to stop the virus from spreading and once again reach such magnitudinal proportions.
Yet there is still a large enough number of people who do not accept that swine flu was even a pandemic in the first place and who say that it was misguided governments, a profit-driven pharmaceutical industry and the sensation-seeking television media and press that practiced large-scale scaremongering that nurtured the doubts and fears in the public which led to what many describe as mass lemming-like hysteria.
So who’s right? Well, it would appear that the public at large does not seem to be overly worried about catching the virus and is not seeking to follow the government’s advice or the guidelines given out by many health experts. The vaccine which was stockpiled in 2009 is still sitting in the warehouses to where it was hastily dispatched and although there are doctors and medical experts who readily claim that a flu shot will provide 100% immunization against the H1N1 virus this year, the reaction from members of the public has been sluggish and reluctant.
If you should decide that you wish to have your shot, then you should see that you have it done soon. According to experts, the flu epidemic is expected to peak in January and February and the vaccine will take about two weeks to work.
And should you decide against having a shot and suddenly develop a high temperature, start to shiver uncontrollably, break out in a strong sweat and have a bad headache and throatache coupled with aching limbs, then you should quickly seek medical advice as the chances are that you have caught the flu or even a virus.
Perhaps we will be lucky. Perhaps things won’t turn out as as bad as many predict and perhaps it is time for each and every one of us has to take his or her own health and that of their families into their own hands and decide along with those who they consider to be competent medical experts and experts in other fields what is right for them and what they should do to stay healthy and protect themselves against a possible large-scale outbreak of flu.
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