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The Definition of Pandemic

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Posted on : 1:38 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

The definition of pandemic is a disease that is prevalent over a whole country or the world. Crunchy Chicken blog asks what people are doing about the swine flu. *sigh* It seems like there's always something, doesn't it?

First of all, according to the definition above, it's not a pandemic. Not yet, anyway. It has to be something bad enough that every country of the world is having large numbers of people getting it. In Mexico it could be closer to that, but hopefully they are aware of it and will be able to keep it more contained. At this point, even that isn't a pandemic, although you will hear the word thrown around a bit. Gizmodo has a Swine Flu Pandemic real-time map so you can track cases. We even have it right here in BC (although I'm a 2 hour ferry ride away).

What's tricky about flu pandemics in general is that they hit about every 20-30 years, and they hit younger people in my age group. Everyone in Canada who has it recently went to Mexico, so we're not seeing people getting it indirectly (i.e. from contact with someone who went to Mexico).

One thing that we already do is keep our immune systems strong. Yes, we vaccinate our kids, albeit a bit delayed, and we allow our kids to get dirty and roll around in the mud. Yes they wash their hands after contact with other kids, and we generally avoid sick people, but we don't use antibacterials or strong disinfectants in the house. I just recently read an article about growing numbers of children who are allergic to fruits and vegetables. Seems like every child's dream right? Not so much, and they link it to overprotective parents sterilizing their children's environment and children staying inside too much. It just shows that people's immune systems are compromised. So, since we aren't allergic to fruit and veggies, we eat lots of them which boosts our immunity too. I take extra Vitamin C and sometimes echinacea to help combat illnesses during cold/flu season (especially while I'm pregnant), but my kids hardly get sick. They have gotten the flu twice, both have had croup a couple of times, and my youngest got tonsillitis once after a bad cold. Neither got sick their first year, but they've gotten a cold maybe once a year since then. Since the typical child has 6-10 colds per year (including babies), I think we're doing pretty well. I think its ok to get sick with a cold now and then so that they can build up immunities to that too.

We also have health care and we watch our kids pretty carefully for symptoms of a serious illness. Even though they hardly get sick, we use lots of prevention. We give them tea, we have fever medication on hand, and we're all informed about proper first aid. For example, one big mistake people make with a really high fever is to immediately think to put their child in a cool bath. Wrong! This can send a child into shock. You shouldn't give medication unless the fever is over 102 degrees F because it's the body's natural fight mechanism (unless they are younger than 3 months in which you should just go to the emergency room). If it's over 102 but under 104 and their behavior doesn't scare you (you know when your kids are sick and really, really sick), then they are probably ok with Tylenol. If not, then go to the hospital. People either wait too long, or not long enough.

The same goes with adults. If it feels worse than regular old flu, it's time to go to the hospital. I think people who are most afraid of a pandemic are those without insurance or adequate medical care, of which there are many. Canadians and other people in subsidized countries are not as worried personally, even though of course health authorities are. We can just go to the hospital whenever we feel like it. Of course Mexico is going to be more prone to this problem because of health care issues, and since the US is right next door but doesn't have a particularly high health care ranking itself, the whole North American continent is at risk. According to the WHO health systems report (beware, the PDF is a little big), each country varies in certain important areas, but the ranking goes Canada, US somewhere in between and mediocre, and then Mexico way below. So we're going to see lots of cases in Mexico, not quite as many in the US, and a few in Canada.

That's not a pandemic, and unless this flu morphs again into something ridiculous that we can't fight because its become some kind of superbug, it just means that this flu season will just be a little bit worse.

Comments (4)

Crunchy Chicken writes for reactions. The swine flu is nothing we are concerned over. We don't eat pork anyway. But we never use antibacterials, we eat well and take vitamins when we need them and we don't sterilize our environment. We rarely get sick (6-10 times a year is average???). And we cook what little meat we eat well.

The only thing that ever concerns me is the improper usage of manure on veggie crops, something you can't always kill, especially if you eat them raw. But we started buying our produce from the farmer's market so we know the practices used by our farmers.

I'm with you. This is *not* a pandemic.

~Tara

you should be careful about giving medical advice. A statement of waiver, even if you are a trained and licensed physician is usually advisable. what you say is your own experience and people should seek the advice of someone licensed to practice medicine can save you a lot of legal trouble.

Hi Anonymous... I am not sure I gave any real medical advice in my blog except to go to the hospital if you feel really sick, lol. I was pretty clear that this is my own experience, and any medical information I included was linked to articles that back them, I hope. I think the point of the post was to point out that people die if they get too sick and don't seek out a doctor ... that's why I mentioned that in Canada there will be less swine flu problems.

Hey there - I'm interested in your experience with delayed vaccination. My baby girl just turned two months and I'm still not sure what I want to do.

Thanks!

Kirsten