Column - Flu warnings worth itEver hear about the boy who cried, “Wolf!”? Well, what about the boy who cried, “Virus!”? Is the kid a fool? Will we listen? Should we care? We won’t know.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Ever hear about the boy who cried, “Wolf!”?
Well, what about the boy who cried, “Virus!”?
Is the kid a fool? Will we listen? Should we care? We won’t know.
When horror strikes (it could be as early as next fall), nobody’s going to listen, nobody’s going to pay attention. That’s the trouble: too many warnings land on deaf ears.
A lot of people are angry, scoffing that we have been scared half to death by a virus that doesn’t seem so bad after all. Well, don’t hold your breath quite yet.
This current so-called “swine flu” is to be taken seriously. The disease experts are not kidding. This flu virus, never known before, can mutate possibly into a massive killer in less than a year.
In the mid-1970s in a biology class at St. Cloud State University, my professor one day said we could all be dead someday because of a virulent virus. I raised my hand, told him that’s impossible because we have new vaccines and such.
The professor laughed. “Dennis, you are wrong,” he said, more or less. “These viruses are devious; in some ways, smarter than us. They can mutate.”
Last summer at a St. Cloud park open house, I re-met that professor from 30 years ago. His name is Dr. Ralph Gunderson. He didn’t remember me, of course. I was just one of a long parade of know-it-all rebel students who thought we’d live forever and get smarter if we drank enough beer and partied hard enough. I shook Gunderson’s hand; I apologized for my wrongness about modern plagues; he smiled kindly and like an academic pope he forgave me wordlessly.
With Gunderson’s lecture in my mind, I am glad these public-health people “over-reacted.” That is because we hung-over smartsters have not been faced with a biological-viral plague in a very long time, either from terrorists or from “natural” biological sources.
We all know what happened when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Everyone and every help agency, including the doofus federal government, were utterly unprepared. So many people suffered and died.
This H1N1 flu may not come back with a vengeance this fall or this winter, but if it does we had better be ready. This spring and summer may be giving us a sweet reprieve to develop a vaccine against a more vicious strain in waiting. We should be so grateful for great scientists who never get any credit at all.
This boy who cried “Virus!” should be listened to because we have got to start preparing for a potential catastrophe. This recent flu scare has put us on alert, and public-health care agencies worldwide now have a heads-up, with good combative measures, about how to deal with what is almost certainly looming on the horizon.