Swine Flu Panic


On Tuesday morning, Kelly started moaning and crying and then ran to throw up. Normally, in these circumstances, I simply declare her sick and she has to stay home for the day. But by then, the news services in full-on panic mode about a new viral strain that had been dubbed swine flu. Peter and I knew if anyone would be a receiver and a vector, it would be Kelly, with her myriad friendships and all the playgroups, community classes, and storytimes. And so, even though we knew it would cost us, I called Kelly’s doctor and got an appointment for her to be seen that morning.

The doctor’s office wasn’t taking any chances either. After I registered Kelly, she was given a face mask to wear. I told her it was special disguise, and she didn’t have any problem keeping it on. I complained to the nurse that I felt like a hypochondriac bringing Kelly in, but I was told that I certainly wasn’t the first or only parent doing this, given the news.

The doctor was practical about the matter, which I appreciated. She examined Kelly, who was, by this time, perky, happy, and not running a temperature. She told me she could run a test swab for swine flu, but given that Kelly didn’t seem that sick, she’d rather not overwhelm the system with unlikely cases. I agreed. She did take a test for strep throat, but I declined to take it in. The doctor didn’t think Kelly had caught a deadly, fatal flu, and that’s really all I wanted to know. We agreed I’d bring Kelly back if she worsened. Kelly’s fine now.

However, I noticed this week that Kelly’s events are more sparsely attended that usual. I barely had any takers for my craft at the homeschoolers’ park group, and only about half as many children as usual showed up for Andrew’s storytime. At grocery stores, I see people taking the wipes that are offered and wiping down shopping carts with them. I respect the precaution, but I have to wonder if the news about the flu isn’t just a little overblown.

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