Monday, April 27, 2009

You Swine!

When we lived in LA, we had the best pediatrician you could imagine. His name is Dr. Jay and he works in Santa Monica and is just amazing. So amazing that even tho we are no longer officially his patients he will still take our calls about our kids to put our minds at ease. He's so amazing that in 2009, the man still makes house calls and will come to your home the day your kid is born (or the day you get him/her home from the hospital) in order to give the kid the once over, get to know his new patient, and- most importantly- put a new parent's mind at ease. Dr. Jay is one of the many reasons I still love and still miss my dear Los Angeles.

So we got this email today from him about the Swine virus that seems to be going around (and- I gather- causing a bit of a panic among his Santa Monica parents). In his usual, non reactionary Dr. Jay way (one of the reasons I love the guy), he reminds us all not to worry so much about the current epidemic of the day... and gets a semi dig in at the Bush Administration! Sweet!

But political jabs aside, check it out- see what you think:


Just wash your hands.

Every year, hundreds of viruses pass through the pediatric and adult community. Many of the bugs are disruptive and keep kids out of school and adults away from work. Some of the viruses have unique signs and symptoms, but most just cause amorphous aches, sneezing, coughing or intestinal upset.

Influenza viruses, especially new ones, trigger more news stories and can be made to seem much more frightening and dangerous than they really are. Government agencies and media don't supply statistical context and make it sound like you've got a "fifty-fifty" chance of contracting this new virus. They then make it sound like a lot of people who get this influenza end up in the hospital and may die. Statistically, nothing could be further from the truth: The chance that the new virus is really dangerous is small. The chance that you'll get it is much, much smaller, and the possibility that you or a family member will be harmed by the virus is so slim that the news should be on page twenty, not page one.

Swine Flu is a virus for which there is no vaccine, no threat to your family and there are undoubtedly tens of thousands of harmless undiagnosed cases throughout the world. The news stories are probably taking a hundred questionable respiratory deaths in Mexico and guessing.

There actually is a very, very small chance that this virus could cause severe illness and whenever this occurs hospitalization and even fatalities are reported. The likelihood of a pandemic is miniscule, but newspapers, governments agencies and the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals do their best work and make their biggest sales when people are scared.

Tamiflu is recommended for treatment and prevention of this influenza virus. The company which gets the drug's royalties (Gilead) has as a major stockholder--previously Chairman--one Donald Rumsfeld.

Local pharmacies are already running low on Tamiflu.

Connect these dots.

The usual boring admonitions apply: wash your hands, stay well-rested and well-hydrated. You do not need to buy Tamiflu. It is an effective antiviral drug but has possible side effects.

As far as our office prescribing Tamiflu, we would rather not, but we will if you insist. I promise you that I personally am purchasing none for my family and would recommend the same to you.




Valiek said...

The World needs more doctors like him. Usually asking a doctor a question like that will Automatically cause them to write a bunch of perscriptions for you. Its good to know there are still some doctors that are in it to help and not just for the kickbacks. Oh yeah by the way im loving the Bounus Round episode. Great stuff

Anonymous said...

I've heard this flu has hit Mexico pretty hard and is starting to get into the US so Cali. and Texas seem the next places to most likely spread to.

Hope you all stay safe and healthy.

iceveiled said...

I've been hearing about this shit all weekend and like most things that I see in the news, I chuckle it off as useless fear mongering.

Anonymous said...

It's a cause for concern when another country has reported multiple deaths due to this swine flu it's hard not to ignore it. Especially if traveled it's way to the states since it's an airborne virus. We'll just have to wait and see I guess what happens.

resident UA said...

On the same day more people died from regular flu and even more committed suicide... I hate news! I see why it could become a problem, but spreading fear is different from informing the public. even 4000 cases in the US wouldn't mean much. There are 300000000 people in this country!!! I wish someone on the news realized what they are doing!

Keith K said...

Reminds me of SARS. 14 old (All over 70, OLD!) people die and next thing you know, you live in Chernobyl.

decimalator said...

Ironically, swine flu has an airborne infection vector. I guess pigs really CAN fly!

J.W. said...

You know, a quarter of a million people die of the NORMAL flu each year. And yet, a few dozen people get pig flu and we're supposed to run to the hills?

Run for our lives?

Yeah, fuck that.

Joe said...

I hope it's not as bad as the bird flu...

JonhX said...

I live in Mexico and it´s a really serious case, the goverment suspended clases all over the country because of the virus. The thing is to have the right precautions and stay home. Hope you don´t have to worry there David.
See ya later man.

Mango said...

you've got a really good doctor there... you know its funny because I shouldn't have to say that.. that should be the norm but sadly its not, and until it becomes that, "you've got a great doc there, he clearly cares".

As for the concern, no doubt news media agencies are hyping this because that's what sells, fear, if you're scared you'll watch the news.

but as for the scientific community, the concern about new flu viruses are that they are mutagenic, meaning constantly changing... and once a virus becomes rapidly mutagenic, or capable of jumping species there is a potential for drastic effects....

in the same way HIV is hard to treat because it constantly mutates its outer shell (therefore its hard to mount an attack against it in your body or develop a vaccine), the new flu species are rapidly changing... if pig flu turns out to be nothing more than a mild flu in humans, its still concerning just from a scientific point of view in that it paves the way for a new species of virus that will inevitably develop.

but you guys are right, its important to look at things in perspective.... car crashes alone still kill more people than the flu... you take a bigger chance everytime you get in a car...


Unknown said...

thanks David. That calmed me down a lot. I'll be sure to wash my hands a lot more often.

PS Hope the God of War movie is progressing well. I never take my mind off it.

Anonymous said...

David, this is totally off topic.

But what are your opinions on Dante's Inferno, which going by Kotaku is a complete rip=off of God of War.


Justin said...

Another case of media sensationalism. We can fully expect this event to be hyped beyond belief for a few weeks, then they will move onto a different topic when the public is bored.

Harlequiine said...

That's pretty cool that he sent you that, shows that he really cares about his patients.
This'll just end up like the bird flu and all blow over soon.

Thanks for posting though, few suggestions there!

Mikee said...

I think you might be interested in the google map recordings of the swine flu! It's obviously not 100% accurate but it is interesting to see a map with recordings on it.

Link for the map is below:,-107.885742&spn=18.503807,35.332031&z=5&source=embed

warezIbanez said...

I think the world could also use some psychologists and many other physician fields that don't just say "Prescribe, Prescribe, PRESCRIBE!"

People need to stop buying into the media so much. It's pathetic when some journalist creates a scare when there are clearly other diseases that kill far more people continually in order to keep up with their hit quotas. Hell, the same tactic of "sensationalism" has trickled into game journalism.

mango said...

Totally off topic...
looks like the latest episode of bonus round sparked some controversy as usual.. some interesting discussions on the forums there...

There is this one part where I almost died laughing, Everyone else was into the discussion and you were just looking around the room like "oh my god, I just want to go back to bed".

Hangovers are hilarious.


Kilrahi said...

I wouldn't necessarily call it sensationalism - and the implication that pushing an effective flu fighter has something to do with Donald Rumsfield is hopefully a tongue in cheek comment.

Here's the truth. Someday, sometime, there will be another epidemic that will wipe out millions of people. It's going to happen. It's happened before. Because from a historical perspective we're a bit due for one, it means people will freak out.

Here's to hoping this ain't it.

Amy Strickland said...

I've been shouting this all week! It's a flu bug. The cure is sprite, chicken soup, and dayquil (South Park reference there). If you're a moron and you drink nothing but coke and beer and stay up all night, yes you could die. Smart people who stay hydrated will be fine. It's a flu bug!

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