Let’s not get carried away

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, April 30, 2009

According to health experts, the world  is facing a pandemic in the form of swine flu. A pandemic, in case you were curious, is an epidemic that spreads over a large area.

Swine flu? Pigs are now making us sick? Should I have skipped that ham sandwich I ate yesterday? Did I just notice a co-worker sneeze, ending with an Achoo-Oink?

Swine flu is serious. It can land a person in the hospital with pneumonia or worse. I understand this. However, there is a part of me that can’t help thinking—maybe hoping—we’re just overreacting about the whole thing.

There are currently less than 100 people in the US with swine flu. I imagine there are more people in hospitals across our country right now due to injuries related to crossing the road. There doesn’t seem to be much of a panic about that, and I’ve not heard any ideas about banning crosswalks.

The swine flu panic isn’t anything new, of course. I remember as a child being gripped with terror over the possibility of killer bees heading to our country. There were reports about killer bees, alleged sightings of killer bees and movies and books about killer bees.

Then, one day, the panic just ended. The killer bee stories just stopped, and no one thought they were going to be attacked when they went out to their garden.

And what about the Bermuda Triangle? The rumored mysterious place where planes and ships disappeared captured all of our attentions in the 1970s. There was a rumor at my high school that the eighth grade trip was going to be to the Bermuda Triangle, convincing me that I wanted to remain in first grade forever.

I’ve not seen a story on the Bermuda Triangle in decades. Apparently, whatever was going on there just ended and I guess eighth graders from Smith Elementary School now travel there without a care in the world.

The list goes on and on:

When I was a kid, I thought you would die if you ate Pop Rocks candy and drank a Coke at the same time or;

Being afraid of going trick-or-treating because I heard someone had slipped poison into a candy-filled straw (or put a razor blade in an apple).

Still, we do need to be careful and take some common-sense steps to prevent spreading the flu. That’s what I plan to do. And avoid that sneezing coworker, too. I think they are looking a little pink around the gills.