Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Friday, May 01, 2009
  The Other White Meat Flu MAYBE Reaches Amherst
The litle boy who called "Swine Flu."

I've resisted posting on Swine Flu because I believe that the media is doing a disservice by hyping the story so much that we've created a climate of paranoia about a virus that looks like it is relatively weak. The news that two students at Amherst have contracted a flu that MIGHT be H1N1 is enough to freak out the entire campus:

Amherst’s Swine Flu/H1N1 task force made up of representatives from Health Services, Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty, Physical Plant, Public Affairs, Campus Police and other offices met this morning. Two new students have presented flu symptoms and have tested positive for Type A (common, garden variety) flu—not H1N1 flu. The college is handling them as suspected H1N1 cases out of an abundance of caution. They are being treated and isolated.

In addition to canceling all parties this weekend, Amherst is setting up instant hand-sanitizing stations at dorms and academic buildings across campus. All of these stations supplement existing locations at the fitness center and dining hall. Posters emphasizing proper sanitation techniques are also being installed in dorms and all over campus.

Amherst is proceeding with previously scheduled athletic contests involving tennis, golf, track and baseball after consulting with coaches and athletics directors at other colleges, as all are off-campus. In addition, coaches are asking that any athlete feeling ill not compete, and that fans not attend if they’re not feeling well. Other college events are being evaluated and/or canceled on a case-by-case basis; activities that could potentially involve the sharing of food or cups, for example, will not take place.
(emphasis mine)

I will say that what this outbreak has been good for is that it is providing a dry-run of the global reaction to a potentially much more serious outbreak. Drills are important. However, after CNN and Fox and everybody else has finished running around with their hair on fire for H1N1, will the average person take the next "outbreak" seriously?
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