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NAX: Casting swine before pearls of wisdom can make one ill - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: Casting swine before pearls of wisdom can make one ill

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Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 12:00 am

Disclaimer: Obviously, it’s not a good idea to make light of a serious situation. But bear in mind that it’s also not wise to blow things out of proportion.

With that firmly in mind, let’s proceed to the latest public panic — the threat of swine flu.

News hounds around the globe are jostling like New York City subway passengers to get on the pandemic train.

And the masses are fearfully rushing right behind the media types, carefully attired in breathing masks.

OK, some people have died. But that happens anytime a strain of influenza comes along. Some people, especially the old and infirm, are susceptible to disease when their immune systems are at low ebb.

Plus, we’re seeing a lot of the early swine flu deaths in areas where the conditions are less than sanitary and where prompt and efficient medical care simply doesn’t exist.

So let’s just try to figure out how nervous to be.

Given, West Texas is relatively close to the country where this dreaded virus started flexing its muscles. So we all know somebody who has been to Mexico lately, or who knows someone who knows someone who might have been in contact with somebody from Mexico. After all, that’s how these things get started — the bug goes round and round and where it stops, nobody knows.

But to establish some perspective, let’s ask a question. How long has it been since you worried about exposure to ebola?

See, betcha you hadn’t thought of that health scare in a month of Sundays. Still, it was at the top of the hit parade when the 24/7 cable folks were playing the panic tune for all it was worth. In fact, like a big Billy Ray Cyrus hit record, it got played so much that you finally wanted to puke when you heard it. And if you were calling Ralph and Orrick, it might be a symptom.

Anyway, back to the present. Swine flu just sounds like something you’d want to avoid at all costs. Bird flu is bad enough, but swine … gotta be awful. Pigs are so big and sloppy. Could we just change the name to the Chihuahua flu? At least it would paint a better mental picture. After all, that breed of dog is quite the rage, although some of them don’t know when to shut up. So we could look upon an outbreak as manageable, if somewhat irritating at times.

Alas, it’s too late to attack the semantics. We’re stuck with swine, for better or worse, and you can’t make silk out of a sow’s ear.

So let’s make the best of however a bad situation this really is. Try to resist the hypochondriac in all of us. If you sneeze, it might be the pollen or dust that is in the air this time of year. If you’re queasy, think back to lunch and that chilidog. If your head hurts, it’s probably because of all that type crawling along at the bottom of your television screen. It’s a proven fact that reading about swine flu can cause eye strain.

Heck, the latest dread illness also might be caused by overexposure to the succession of physicians being trotted out by the cable news outlets. The more the symptoms get bandied about, the more likely you are to catch one of them. Have your eyes felt itchy lately?

Caution is warranted. Panic should be avoided. Like mothers have told kids for years, you left your mouth open and in flew influenza.

Odessa, TX

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