Friday, May 1, 2009

The Great Swine Flu Pandemic

My Costa Rican housekeeper, Zinia Warrior Cleaner, asked me today if I had heard about the swine flu pandemic (OK- pandemic is a little out of her linguistic range, but I knew what she meant).  I was surprised to find out that my maid thought I lived under a rock.  Of course, she is greatly concerned.  Me, not so much.  This led to a spirited debate.  She couldn't believe I wasn't terrified of the swine flu and presented two arguments that would have been very compelling if there had been a shred of truth to either of them:
  1. Swine flu will kill ya within 24 hours of infection, and..
  2. There is no cure.
Boy, that does sound terrifying.  Utter Bullshit, but terrifying nonetheless.  I wondered aloud if she was aware that approximately 35,000 Americans die every year from complications related to plain old seasonal flu.  15,000 have already died this year.  This did not have the intended effect- which was to make her realize that the swine flu is no more dangerous or prevalent than lots of other stuff we live with every day.  Instead, I now fear I my housekeeper may never leave her own house again.   Which means my house could indeed become a very dangerous place to live.  

The point is, Americans love to be afraid of things.  The press feeds off of this, and now instead of worrying about any of the thousands of things that really endanger this country, we all stare up at the sky, waiting for terrorists to air-drop diseased pigs into our children's schoolyards. When did we become such a nation of weak kneed pussies?