By Evelyn Ticona
On Friday, April 24 I was babysitting when CNN had the first images of civilians and the police wearing masks in Mexico City’s main square.
“Breaking News! Swine flu virus has killed at least 68 people in Mexico and more than 1,000 people have fallen ill in Mexico City,” the news anchor said.
H1N1 goes beyond fever, upset stomach, vomiting and other symptoms; it can actually ruin your finances and summer plans. I won’t go into details about the swine flu itself because there is a very informative article about that in this same issue.
I must make it clear that eating pork will not put you at any risk whatsoever of getting infected. So those of you who like pork, don’t let the media scare you. Go out there and get as many pork products as you want.
PBA’s first H1N1 victim
Don’t panic; it’s just a joke. Though I haven’t been infected with the H1N1 virus, I consider myself a victim just the same.
During the first couple weeks of the H1N1 reporting, the media released dozens of alarming articles and updates of how the number of infected people was increasing. Coincidentally, I bought tickets to go to Peru via Aeromexico just two days before CNN news broke the H1N1 story. And within a week the Peruvian government decided to cancel all flights to and from Mexico, which obviously included mine.
I had to spend an extra $500 to purchase tickets through another airline and convince my resident director to let me stay a couple more days after the deadline for moving out of the dorms.
A slaughter … of plans
The swine flu seriously messed up my plans, my budget and the opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with my mom in Peru. This may sound selfish and heartless in regards to other people’s pain, but this situation demonstrates that a pandemic flu can also generate problems besides health issues.
At the beginning, some people compared the swine flu phenomenon to the Spanish flu of 1918 that also spread quickly, killing approximately 50 million people around the world. Others affirmed that it was going to be a worldwide pandemic disease.
During the first couple of weeks tons of surgical masks were sold at Walgreens. In fact, they sold out of them online. When I looked them up on a Web site this message would pop-up: “Sorry, this item is currently out of stock.”
That gives you an idea how some companies profit from the collective paranoia of the people.
Controlling the chaos
Though the news media reported the possibility of hundreds of thousands of deaths around the globe, the World Health Organization announced on Sept. 9 that the H1N1 influenza has only killed 2,837 people.
This is in stark contrast to the number of people killed per year by seasonal flu: 36,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Considering how many people die from the common flu, these figures are not really that scary.
In the case of the swine flu, I believe that paranoia has won out over common sense. We must restore order if we are ever going to get this pandemic under control.