Monday, 21 September 2009


I feel very sorry for people who have to be admitted into hospital in this day and age. Not only do they obviously have to contend with ill health, but there's also the much-publicised risk of MRSA and, as YourThanetNews claimed recently, the rising threat of swine flu. According to NHS West Kent and NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent, it turns out that the number of people diagnosed with swine flu across our county has increased sharply for the first time since July, ballooning from an estimated 3,000 people to 5,000 people.

This essentially means that swine flu infections in Kent are approaching their second wave, which is probably inevitable as the weather gets a little bit colder. I mean, crikey, that sea breeze has got a bit chilly lately, don't you think? Granted, the weather was a lot nicer for the Big Sky International Kite Festival this weekend, but if it had arrived a few days sooner when it was a lot windier, I think all those kites would've been blown across the English Channel like knickers on a washing line. Then again, it's a bit of a cliché to moan about the weather, so I'm not gonna dwell on it too much.

Anyway, I wouldn't start booking hospital beds at the QEQM just yet. I mean, let's not get ahead of ourselves. We should always remember that most cases of swine flu bear only mild flu-like symptoms; after all, the small number of people who've died from swine flu have had underlying health conditions anyway, so I'm guessing for most healthy people swine flu is probably comparable to having a very bad cold. Then again, I've heard some horror stories from some friends of mine, as I'm sure most of you have too. Somebody I knew from college got a brand new job recently, fell ill with swine flu, told his boss about it and promptly got given the sack. So, it looks like the media frenzy surrounding swine flu has scared some employers witless, wouldn't you say?

Thankfully, I think I've escaped swine flu, but it's early days yet. I do know people who may have had it. Even my girlfriend thinks she suffered from swine flu a few weeks ago – she was bedridden for a good few days, bless her, but despite us living in close proximity, I avoided being contaminated by her filthy germs. The Medieval plague suit I fashioned probably helped a bit. And the cloves of garlic I hung above our bed. No, on a serious note, I expect more swine flu cases will increase over the winter before it'll dissipate, just like every other bout of influenza historically tends to do. But we shouldn't be spooked by the news.

None of this does anything to resolve my concern for the frail or the elderly, of course, who may have to be hospitalized if they contract swine flu. I seem to remember that statistics were released last year indicating that deaths from C. Difficile have risen by 28% in England and Wales, not to mention all this needless hysteria about E.coli. Honestly, I really don't know why the media feels compelled to over-egg the pudding with regard to public health scares. Actually, they almost seem to enjoy portraying hospitals as being nothing but great big germ factories, don't they? It's almost like they expect us to avoid getting hospitalized like the plague, which seems like an odd little paradox, if you ask me.

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