It’s OK to come out now

By Whitney Fitts, Staff Writer

If you’ve quarantined yourself from the outside world out of fear of the swine flu, then it’s about time you came back out.

Actually, the time to quarantine yourself never really happened–you just think it happened because that’s what the news, not your doctor, told you.

The truth of the matter is that despite all the talk, news coverage and respiratory masks that have been so prominent the past few months, the swine flu isn’t the daunting biological threat it has been made out to be.

“What the epidemiologists are seeing now with this particular strain of U.N. (swine flu) is that the severity of the flu–how sick you get–is no stronger than regular-season flu,” said Janet Napolitano, homeland security secretary at a press conference in Washington in May.

Dr. Mark Pfitzner, director of the U’s Student Health Center, agrees with her. Pfitzner said the swine flu is just a typical viral infection that poses no general threat to students at the U. In fact, the U’s Student Health Center hasn’t had a single reported case of the swine flu. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been any students at the U who have had swine flu, but that it hasn’t been serious enough to draw attention.

That’s comforting news, considering that the one Utah man to die of swine flu was college age. Also comforting to hear is that swine flu was not the sole cause of his death. The 21-year-old, Marcos Antonio Sanchez, had chronic medical conditions that included respiratory problems.

People with such health issues constitute a high risk group that is more susceptible to any kind of flu.

“If you’re already sick, you can’t afford to get sicker, “said Dr. Kurt Peterson of Primary Children’s Hospital.

It seems as though the threat of swine flu has been over-dramatized, and with the attention it’s received from national and global agencies it’s not hard to understand why. On April 26, the U.S. Government declared swine flu a public health emergency. On June 11, the World Health Organization pushed the swine flu alert to Phase 6, indicating that a pandemic is underway.

Health emergency and pandemic seem to be strong words for a virus that reportedly is no more severe than the regular flu that comes through every year.

The swine flu has been classified as it has less because of what how the virus could affect our health, and more for what could be done with the media exposure.

Heightened concern about the swine flu has benefited the media with higher viewer ratings, the pharmaceutical companies with raised orders in flu treatments, and the Centers for Disease Control with more funding to test the virus.

In the words of Rahm Manuel, “Never waste a good crisis.”

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