1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
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Monday, April 27, 2009

OMG! It's a "SWINE" Flu!

Coda: I'm not mocking the serious threat of a Flu pandemic.

That said, the title "Swine Flu" gets to the inane heart of the media's health coverage. The flu you get every year? THAT's almost always "swine flu." The strains that come out of Hong Kong every year, and get incorporated into that year's vaccine? Yup, "Swine" flus. The modern flu cycle is almost rooted in annual swine-human crossovers. What is scary about avian flu is that, because pigs can get chicken flu (and we can't), and because we get our flu from pigs, there's a non trivial chance that a pig flu will hybridize with a chicken flu within some poor pig, and that we'll then get that flu, which, because it's only partly "swine flu" may look much more foreign to our immune systems, and hence, be much more deadly (that's what happened with the 1918 "Spanish" flu).

There are around 20 to fifty thousand Deaths in the US due to regular old "swine flu" annually, and I wish reporters would include these numbers when talking about the current outbreak. That said, there's certainly the danger that the current strain will have a much higher mortality rate, and eventually kill more people. But better context and better information would help keep people from freaking out.

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