We have a new instance of “Blame the Messenger”: this time it’s the media for frightening the public about a possible flu epidemic. But what else could the media do? We are told that the swine flu situation is in flux. It’s a new strain to humans, so no one can’t predict the risks entailed. How widespread will it be? How long will it be around? How sick will its victims get? Is this just a preview of a bad situation in the next flu season? What will it leave in its wake? How prepared are we? The President tells us that his administration is taking this very seriously, monitoring it, but not panicking. We are told too that we are prepared with plenty of medication and authorities are keeping a close watch.
I personally think that the media is doing a measured and appropriate job. They are reporting the incidence in different locals, the death rate (which, so far, is very small), the symptoms, and they are even interpreting the alarming sounding numbers referring to the speed of the spread---does it approach the World Health Organization’s prediction of a Pandemic? In the U. S., it has been declared a public health emergency, so far not a pandemic. Some schools have closed because there have been at least a few cases reported among their students. Other schools are closed to prevent the spread, even though no local cases have been reported. The media is simply reporting all of this and adding a note saying there is no need for panic. Wash hands often, cover our noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing, stay home and keep our kids home if we or they are ill.
Despite careful, accurate and measured reporting, some people are prone to great anxiety over talk about a pandemic. So the American Psychological Association and APA Practice.org are offering help to ease that anxiety. You can read, “Managing Your Anxiety about Swine Flu” at www.apahelpcenter.org.
Stay informed because this is a dynamic situation. Check the CDC web site.
Get the facts that will help with decision making; but limit the time spent watching or listening to media coverage. Then help me with my own tough decision: should I go to “Grandparents’ Day” at my granddaughter’s school in 3 days? I have had more than my share of illness this past fall and winter; but how can I disappoint her by being so extra cautious? Advice please!