By on November 8, 2009

No buckle up. (courtesy

I’ve just spent five fun-filled days looking after two flu-filled sprogs whilst suffering from the selfsame porcine virus. And on the sixth day, I took my wife to the ER to stop, well, you don’t want to know (nor does she want me to tell you). Although I’ve managed to avoid buying a “I just spent five fun-filled days looking after two flu-filled sprogs and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” t-shirt, my experience has piqued my interest in media coverage of the viral outbreak. The MSM has decided that this is big story because 150 children have died from the swine flu. One-hundred and fifty? As a father, my heart goes out to the kids’ families. That said, “On any given day nearly 700 children are harmed due to accidents on our roadways,” Seattle personal injury lawyer Christopher M. Davis writes. “Of the 250,000 kids injured each year, approximately 2,000 die from their injuries. Children make up about 5% of total fatalities due to car accidents. In fact, for children between the ages of 2 and 14, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death. . . The failure to wear a seat belt or use a child safety seat is a contributing factor in more than half of the cases involving children who die in car accidents.” As the Dixie Chicks were wont to sing, there’s your trouble.

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14 Comments on “One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest...”

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    It feels like there’s been a fatal car wreck in my sinuses.

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    Over 40,000 people per year die from conventional flu — in the US alone. In that context, 150 children is not unusually high.

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    This reminds me of when my sis-in-law drove me to to O’Hare to catch a plane some years ago. As we flew down the Damn Ryan at 80 mph in her ancient, rusted Toyota, she told me how she didn’t like to fly in turboprops because they were unsafe. I was too busy white-knuckling the passenger-side jesus handle to point out that we were both 10,000 times more likely to die right there in her car!

    Of course, it’s all relative (pun intended)… when it’s one of your own who is hurt or suffering, distinctions like these are lost, even among the most rational… pointing them out around flu-crazed parents usually proves to not be a sound self-preservation tactic! I wish a speedy recovery to all in the Farago household.

    Meanwhile: My nose is so sore right now that I’m afraid it’ll throttle me in my sleep if I take another kleenex to it.

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    In the abstract, I think all this worry about flu, and the swine flu in particular, is overwrought.

    In real life, three weeks ago my 15-year-old son stayed home from school with a slight fever. Suddenly his temperature shot up to almost 105 degrees. We were in the car going to the doctor’s office minutes later. Only to have him be given a dose of Motrin and sent home, where he was fine two days later.

    Hard to think rationally about statistics when your own family is part of them. All the best to those who have themselves or their families hit by the bug.

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    I completely agree that the MSM overhypes casualties compared to automobile accidents.

    In this case, there is one extenuating circumstance that makes some of the wringing of hands acceptable: the flu has ready potential to be far worse than the car accident rate.

    When the MSM went ballistic months ago about swine flu, but the actual incident rates were low, people acted like the whole thing wasn’t a big deal. Well the flu has been slow to get off the ground precisely *because* it has been taken so seriously.

    Worrying about shark attacks, airplane crashes, or conventional-weapon terrorism is generally as stupid as playing the lottery to make money. Some things, though, are legitimately dangerous, or have the capacity to be: nuclear weapons, motorcycling, base jumping and yes, epidemics. I agree that we need to keep our priorities in order, and I also think calculated risks (like motorcycling and base jumping) can be, in our otherwise absurdly safe society, pretty worthwhile. Epidemics don’t have much of a fun offset. Attention and prevention is the one thing that can cut down the danger itself.

    That said, I’m not going to worry about swine flu when I leave the house, and all those “hand sanitation” pumps that are getting so in vogue drive me nuts. So it goes.

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    I spent three days on the crapper too ;-)

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    Not only are car accidents the number one killer of children 2-14 years old – it also beats the number two cause of death by a margin of 400%.

    As for hand sanitation lotion on the flu – a virus is not a bacteria (and is not even really classified as being alive) so anti-bacterial lotions do very little to prevent infection (an Iodine scrub would work but that’s a little impractical). Washing of hand is effective but that is more because of the mechanical action of washing off potentially infectious virus particles.

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    John Horner

    The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the swine flu are indeed small potatoes in the amount of pain, suffering and fatalities caused compared to what happens on the roads each and every day. We have become numb to automotive accidents and fatalities, even though they are far more likely to have affected us directly than has the Big Fear of the Moment.

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    As I understand it, “Swine Flu” is one of those influenzas that is slightly more infectious than “normal”, AND it kills a higher proportion of people it infects, including younger people.

    That makes it the subject of concern. No doubt the MSM will find a way to scare people as usual.

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    What grinds my gears is that how auto crash fatalities are given so little attention, but the MSM plasters the airwaves whenever young, attractive white women go missing….

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    I could not agree more with RF. The MSM’s love affair with a good scare story has some truly pernicious side effects. It lulls people into worrying about marginal risk like vaccine side-effects while ignoring more serious, immediate risks that they could actually do something about.

    But even more insidious is that the vaccine-death scare stories convince people not to get themselves and their families vaccinated, thereby increasing the death rate. The people who write and run these stories literally are playing with other people’s lives, and they should treat the reporting with a commensurate level of care and caution. They rarely do.

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    Just wrote a swine flu column for my local newspaper. I compared the marketing strategy to a major doughnut/coffee chain except that the doughnut guys get you through faster and don’t scare the hell out of customers.

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    The media love stories like this because they can blow it out of all proportion and sell lots more newspapers that way. Everyday people love stories like this because they can get het up and nervous and have something to talk about around the watercooler because there is nothing else interesting going on in their lives.

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