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Friday, February 15, 2008


It's high flu season. And I've gotten some foreboding reports.

First of all, I caught a wicked good flu last weekend. And not just a rhinovirus, a real honest-to-God hates-your-guts influenza. Rocked me right in the face. For folks who don't know, most people who say they have the flu don't actually have the flu. They've got a rhino, a corona, or some other virus that makes you feel crappy, and you might go home or you might soldier through work after all. The flu ain't like that. Influenza gives you body aches and intense malaise - you just can't do anything. You sit around hurting for at least a couple days with a brain that feels like marshmallow fluff. You'll probably get pretty dehydrated, what with the fevers. Lord knows I did. My girlfriend said my lips were the color of my even-paler-than-normal face. And then she went and got me a pile of Gatorade and made me some soup - she's pretty awesome like that.

But it was also good on her account because (surprise!) she came down with the exact same thing while I was convalescing. We chowed down on some good wonton soup and lo mein that night (surprisingly good sick food...)

Long story short: you remember the flu. It does not play around.

Now, even though we got knocked flat on our butts with the flu, it wasn't anywhere close to killing us. But there are some people whom it does kill, chiefly the very young, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems - 36,000 a year in America alone. To make the obligatory bizarre comparison: HIV kills around 20,000 people every year in the USA (according to the CDC.) Eh?

Perhaps the plural of "anecdote" isn't "evidence"... but everyone I know seems to have gotten laid out by the flu. And now I hear that my girlfriend's old alma mater is closing up for a little while because too many students and faculty have gotten too sick. Keep in mind that the flu shot didn't work this year*, another nasty thing about adenovirus - sometimes it moves too fast genetically for our vaccines to keep up.

Maybe my concern also has something to do with having watched "Children of Men" recently, a premise of which is that the world went to hell after the flu pandemic of 2008.

Wash your hands and cough into your elbows. The fertility of the human race is depending on you.

*Makes me feel like less of a dumbass for being the asthmatic on steroids who "just didn't get" a flu shot. Only a little less.

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