Sunday, January 16, 2005

Flu shots and all that

During the political campaign, BrooklynDodger adopted a riff that went something like this.

"Each election, we try to make occupational health and safety and public and
environmental health an issue. It's pretty much a non starter. During the three
presidential debates, there was only one question on the environment, and public
health discussion limited to simplistic ideas on health promotion discounts for
health insurance premiums. Who would have thought that flu shots would be such a
big deal? Now there's no flu shot for me. Luckily, I live only a tunnel trip to
Canada. Actually, now they are saying that while it's unsafe to bring
prescriptions drugs made in the USA back from Canada, it's safe to take a flu
shot and import the vaccine. I guess that's because the flu vaccine is not made
in an American run plant."

The Dodger never went to Windsor for the shot. But the other day, a radio news story said that CDC had scared and discouraged enough people that there was flu vaccine available to those of us not quite old enough to be high risk. So, BrooklynDodger felt obligated to drive out to our physician’s office to get the shot, so that we can defend our criticism of the abject failure and bungling CDC and FDA as more than a cheap shot. And, the flu season is still here, and not dying of pneumonia was a bit of an incentive.

Seriously, the Administration’s lying, hypocritical and incompetent campaign to terrorize the American public about bioterrorism is most revealed by this debacle on ordinary infectious disease.

After all that, BrooklynDodger learned there are other diseases which might break out. One is RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants, and is spread from respiratory secretions through close contact with infected persons or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Illness begins most frequently with fever, runny nose, cough, and sometimes wheezing. In adults, it can be really bad.

Another is viral gastroenteritis. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the "stomach flu," although it is not caused by the influenza viruses. [Some question whether flu is likely to cause vomiting and diarrhea.] The main symptoms of viral gastroenteritis are watery diarrhea and vomiting. The affected person may also have headache, fever, and abdominal cramps ("stomach ache"). In general, the symptoms begin 1 to 2 days following infection with a virus that causes gastroenteritis and may last for 1 to 10 days, depending on which virus causes the illness. There is now an outbreak in Michigan.

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