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From the Editor

May 1, 2009

MAY

I was all set to write an article about how worried everyone is about the swine flu right now, until I checked Google Trends.  It turns out the most popular search today is not H1N1 but the death of Danny Gans, while searches for mint julep recipes, May Day, Churchill Downs and The Today Show rank high on the list.

May 2009 Cover. Photo by Vitaly Nikolaev

Photo by Vitaly Nikolaev

“Swine flu May 1,” the only direct mention of the virus on the list (as of about noon), is the 80th most searched term — not far ahead from Kirstie Alley’s weight gain and Michelle Obama’s sneakers.  When officials said not to panic, it seems internet users have taken them up on their advice.

I’m a little more concerned about it than I probably ought to be.  I have asthma (a big risk factor when it comes to any type of flu), but I get vaccinated every year because of it (which supposedly helps avoid complications; officials warned early on that everyone should get flu shots next year, to avoid compounding any returning swine flu cases with the standard flu).  My state of New York also has more U.S. cases than any other state, with 50 confirmed cases reported as of 11 am today.  Most of these are in New York City, yet officials have assured the public that it is still safe to use public transportation, unless you are feeling ill yourself.

Since 36,000 people a year die from complications due to your garden variety of influenza, with 200,000 hospitalized from those complications, according to the CDC’s statistics on flu in the U.S., it seems fitting to only give H1N1, which has caused only 1 death out of 141 U.S. cases, all the precautions of a regular flu, though this one is currently lacking a vaccine.

As summarized on a very useful MSN Travel Q&A, the CDC makes the following recommendations for staying healthy:

“Wash hands often with soap and water. Use waterless alcohol-based hand gels (containing at least 60 percent alcohol) when soap is not available. Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. To keep germs from spreading, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.”

So far, it’s not so bad.  After all, on a day when one of your primary worries as a nation is not hitting the mint juleps too hard, life is pretty darn good.

Take it easy, everybody.

— keito, The Editor
May 1, 2009

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