Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What next? A plague of locusts?

Flu season has hit here, and hit hard. It was delayed quite a bit, but it has descended with a vengeance. My pal Jim has been out for several days, and actually had to go to the ER, because he said he was starting to get scared. He spiked a temp of over 103°, which is extremely high for an adult. He got some IV fluids at the hospital, and when his fever started going down, they sent him home. He seems to be on the mend now, but he was deathly ill for a while there. I'm glad you're okay, Jimi!

We're also feeling it at work. We do a Direct Fluorescent Antibody test for Influenza, and in the fall and early winter, we averaged no more than 10 per day. We're up to over 60 most days now, and we're scrambling to rearrange things to distribute the work a little better. 60 DFA's are just more than one person can do in a reasonable shift. It reminds me of a few years ago when we had a really bad flu outbreak, and we were all working 10-hour days. And if we weren't already short-staffed and overworked enough, I got a letter today saying that I've been summoned for jury duty. Couldn't they have waited a couple of months, when I'm not working, to randomly choose me? Oh, the irony of it all....There is a spot for deferment based on "public necessity," and since I will have no work commitment in 2 months, I believe I will give it a try based on the flu outbreak. It also says that I'm in the jury pool as of today, but I didn't get the questionnaire until today!

I hope folks got their flu shots, because even if you aren't at risk for it, it can help stop the transmission of it. The young, elderly, and people with respiratory problems are at particular risk, and you could help keep them from getting the flu by getting a shot yourself. It's not too late to get a shot, but it's getting close. I don't know if my buddy got a flu shot, but I have heard rumors that there is a strain going around out there that was not included in the shot. There's not much you can do about that, but it does protect against the most prevalent strains.

Please bear with me while I write just a little about viruses, okay? You may ask yourself, "Self, why do I have to get a shot every year? If I have the flu once, won't I build up immunity to it?" Well, that particular strain. The thing about viruses is that they mutate like hell. There is always an antigenic drift, in which there is a slight change in the genetic makeup, but it can be enough to cause you to get sick all over again, although the severity of the infection can be less. Then there's an antigenic SHIFT, in which the virus changes significantly, and can infect different species, be transmitted differently, etc. An antigenic shift is what could cause a pandemic flu. I.e., it's essentially a completely new strain of virus, one to which no one has any real acquired immunity. So why get a flu shot if there's a strain going around that has had an antigenic shift? It may have enough genetic similarities that you will have some antibodies that can knock it back a bit. Send it reeling, if not exactly give it a knockout blow. It could be enough to save your life, and it could save the lives of loved ones...or a complete stranger, for that matter!

Think about the common cold. We've all had colds, over and over again. Why do we keep getting them, and why can't they develop a vaccine? There are so many strains of Rhinovirus (the virus that causes colds) that they can't get them all into one shot. And even if they did, viruses mutate so easily that the shot would be obsolete before they could even distribute it! Okay, that's today's lesson...class dismissed!

Wait, don't rush out--I'm not done! I have other things to write about! While I'm on the topic of work, I have something positive to write about. I mentioned that one of my coworkers didn't say anything to me about my resignation. Jillian told me today that on Monday, this person was cool about it, and said something to the effect of, "Good for her." So while she might not have said anything about it to me, I was happy to hear that she DID have something nice to say. My buddy Greg was really nice, too...he had a sad face on, and said, " you HAVE to?" I thought that was very sweet, and I was really touched.

As for Roger Clemens testifying before a Congressional committee...I don't have much to say at the moment. Someone is lying. I find it all extremely sordid, and it's time ALL sports cracked down on this and put an end to it.

And as for politics, Obama had another sweep yesterday. Clinton adopted a congratulatory tone, which she quickly abandoned,and vowed that she is not done. Which is true--there are more primaries coming up. But her shuffling of campaign managers makes me think that she's getting the idea that she IS in a spot o' trouble.


jimsulliv3 said...

I am withholding judgement until I hear more, but Brian McNamee, the little weasel that's testifying about Clemens is a known liar and "graduated" with a PHD from a diploma mill college that has no campus. That notwithstanding, we'll see what shakes out.

Does a glass of Johnny Walker Black qualify as a flu shot?


luvrte66 said...

Probably not, Jimmy, but it certainly can't hurt. ;)


queeniemart said...

every time i have ever gotten the flu shot, i got sick but after this awful week of my life, i may get one from here on out. I would not wish my bronchitis on my worst enemy. I am one who has went TWO YRS without one call in and i am now out for 9 days. How is that for kicking a girl in her pants?! I like it when you talk about your job....keep on informing us...i AM listening. So glad that coworker did at least say good for you. My juty duty always comes at awful times too.
They have spent SO much money the US doesnt have on stupid steroid use. SO what.
hugs, lisa

rdautumnsage said...

Outside my lung infections, which I'm more prone to think the longer I'm not smoking will improve....Echineina(sp?), Vitamin C, Herbal Teas and a few other assortments of herbal warfare I take during the winter usually does the trick. I'm well aware of taking a healthy approach to keep myself from being sick. Something is better than nothing.....

Roger Clemens statement of "misremembered" is still smarting with me. He's suppose to be a hero to kids and he uses terms like that? Good Grief even without the steroids the kids are in trouble. (Hugs) Indigo