Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

May 2, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 6:31 am

“Doctor, the National Inquirer is on the phone.”

Oh, oh.

But I had to take the call, of course.  It was 1976 and I had been placed in charge of the Swine Flu campaign for the state of Georgia.  Dealing with “the press” was part of the job.

“Doctor, we heard that someone up in the mountains of Georgia was found dead in a pig feeding trough last week.  Could we get a quote from you about him, seeing as how he’s the first victim of this Swine Flu of yours?”

‘ My ‘ Swine Flu ?

“Sorry,” I answered, trying to be firm. “But, that gentleman was a farmer who died of a heart attack.  It was NOT – I repeat, NOT Swine Flu.  But, thanks for the call.”

That was a long time ago, but today’s news awakens the memories.  However, there are differences.  We are not doing a mass vaccination campaign this time (there is no vaccine for the current “Swine Flu” strain) and we are at the end of the flu season, not the beginning.

So what do we do with this H¹N¹ Swine Flu?

First, we are doing surveillance.  Physicians country-wide are being asked to send samples from suspect patients with illness that looks like Influenza so we can find Swine flu as soon as it crops up.  So far, there are many parts of the world where no cases have been found.  But we expect it to continue spreading, and need to know when it arrives.

Next, we are asking that you follow these guidelines to prevent the spread of Influenza:


  • Stay home if you are ill.    “At the first sign of the flu – – – staying home is the thing to do.


  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or touching someone who is ill.


  • Use alcohol-based hand cleanser (like we use at the hospital).


•        Use sneeze and cough etiquette, which means use a handkerchief or          Kleenex to cough or sneeze or blow your nose, or cough / sneeze into the elbow of your sleeve.


  • If you have been exposed to a family member who is ill with flu, avoid any unnecessary contact with others until it is clear that you are past the incubation period (seven days) and did not become ill.


  • The use of masks will not protect you. If you are worried about catching the Flu from crowds, avoid crowds.


Remember:              “At the first sign of the flu – – – staying home is the thing to do.”

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