Putting Lipstick on this Swine Flu Problem

April 30, 2009

Back in 1976, when the U.S. was celebrating its bicentennial, my family vacation took us to Philadelphia, just about the time that Legionnaires' Disease was making news. You might remember that health scare: in July of that year, an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia.

The news reports came fast and furious about this mysterious disease.  Numbers differ, but perhaps as many as 221 people were given medical treatment and 34 deaths occurred. But by January, 1977, the causative agent was identified as a previously unknown bacterium, subsequently named Legionella.

Today, an estimated 8,000 to 18,000 people get legionellosis in the U.S. each year. Some people can be infected with the Legionella bacterium and have only mild symptoms or no illness at all. The fatality rate of Legionnaires' disease has ranged from 5% to 30% during various outbreaks.

Since the summer of 1976, the world has lived through a variety of health scares, including Bird Flu in 1999 and 2003. Despite all the hype in the media, Bird Flu never reached the pandemic stage.

My guess here is that Swine Flu too, will be isolated and controlled. But it does provide some good ammo for manufacturers of disinfectants and household cleaners! Unfortunately, due to all the hype by health officials, politicians and the media, when a health crises does occur, people may not heed the warnings after so many false alarms.