Fighting the flu in Texas


Texas government worries about the flu, with good cause.

The Texas Department of State Health Services set up a flu information page at its website, urging Texans to act now to prevent trouble later:

Flu season is here — here’s what you can do:

  • Stay Informed
    TexasFlu.org is the DSHS site for flu information in Texas. Bookmark it. Sign up to receive Twitter and e-mail notices when information is posted.
  • Get a Seasonal Flu Shot Now
    Don’t wait. Get your seasonal flu vaccination now. It’s one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from seasonal flu. Also, be prepared to get the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine later. It is expected to be available in mid-October.
  • Stop the Spread
    Wash hands frequently. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you’re sick. Have a plan to care for sick family members at home
  • 18 Texas kids have died from influenza in the past 52 weeks.  Health officials hope immunization will keep pediatric and other deaths low, for both the regular seasonal flu viruses and the novel H1N1 which is the subject of a WHO-declared pandemic.

    (By the way, “pandemic” does not have “panic” at its root; it’s a combination of “pan” from Greek and roughly meaning “all people“, and “demic” meaning a health issue “people. (See Mr. B’s comment below.)

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a pandemic can start when three conditions have been met:[1]

    • emergence of a disease new to a population;
    • agents infect humans, causing serious illness; and
    • agents spread easily and sustainably among humans.

    A disease or condition is not a pandemic merely because it is widespread or kills many people; it must also be infectious. For instance, cancer is responsible for many deaths but is not considered a pandemic because the disease is not infectious or contagious.

    Complaints that deaths are low from H1N1 should be regarded as a compliment to the work of health care workers and officials; and statements that we don’t have a flu pandemic ‘because not many people have died’ miss the definition of “pandemic.”)

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    2 Responses to Fighting the flu in Texas

    1. Ed Darrell says:

      You’re right. I was unclear. Thanks.

      Like

    2. Mr. B says:

      Actually, I have to make a minor etymological quibble: pandemic, as you note, is not etymologically related to panic (which is an allusion to Pan, the famous troublemaker of Greek mythology), but your explanation is off on one point. It is derived from the Greek pan, meaning “all” (as in panacea), and demos, meaning “people” (as in democracy – a word I know you’re familiar with!). Hence, a pandemic is something pertaining to all people, which in this specified use deals with medicine (although the term itself can be used in other senses).

      Like

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