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Swine Flu: Why is This Different?

Every news cycle over the past few days has been consumed with stories about the Swine Flu (I realize that the CDC is calling it something different so pigs aren’t insulted).  The World Health Organization is involved along with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and it helped facilitate the immediate confirmation of the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  It truly is a global issue that not only impacts health but economics around the world and in particular Mexico.

Viruses are around us all the time.  The hope is that our immune systems can keep them at bay, but when they can’t all hell breaks loose.  I’m particularly sensitive to these issues because I have a dog, yes a dog, who has been diagnosed with MRSA and Pseudomonas, not to mention staph infections.  These infections are prevalent in our healthcare settings and they don’t make news regularly…why do you think that is?  People die from these infections, but they aren’t casually transmitted and the big issue is they don’t impact the global economic situation like the Swine Flu.  The tentacles of the Swine Flu reach far and go deep…is that the only time when we put our attention into fighting illness?  I think I’m having one of those cynical touchstone moments that I discussed in a previous post.

One of the things talked about repeatedly on the news is how to protect yourself from getting infected.  Yesterday NPR had a story that gave us listeners a lesson on how to wash our hands.  They wanted everyone to know how long you should wash your hands for (20 seconds) and what song you can sing to get to the 20 second marker.  Are we so naive about our health?  Do we have such issues of entitlement that we believe we don’t ever have to take any precautions?  Isn’t that the thought around HIV… I can’t get it so I don’t have to worry about safe sex? 

We have to begin taking better care of our health on a regular basis, not just when we increase the alert level.  We have to know what our risk factors are and how we can take better care of our bodies so we won’t have to confront the illnesses lurking in the shadows waiting for us to let down our guard.  What will you do to take better care of yourself?

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