Tag Archives: flu

Mild Cases of Coronavirus

The Washington Post points out that 82% of covid-19 cases identified so far are mild, basically a bad cold. Virologists are trying to determine: How many more mild cases haven’t been counted? And what factors cause some cases to be mild and others lethal?

There are several coronaviruses that already circulate globally and just cause colds. And there are several that cause more dangerous diseases like SARS and MERS. Covid-19 is new enough that we’re still trying to figure out where it is on the scale between a cold and SARS.

The Los Angeles Times brought up the H1N1 flu, which at first appeared much more deadly than other strains because it was the severe cases that were being counted. Once researchers could go back and find the mild cases, it turned out to be about the same as the typical seasonal flu. A decade since jumping to humans, H1N1 has essentially become just another seasonal flu.

Covid-19 is somewhere in between a cold and SARS, but as mentioned above, we’re still trying to figure out where.

In any case, it’s worth remembering: mild or severe, coronaviruses spread the same way as colds and the flu.

Wash your hands. (As Science-Based Medicine points out, a recent study suggests that hand-washing in airports is “probably the single most effective method for preventing pandemics.”)

Cough and sneeze into your elbow instead of your palm.

And if you get sick, stay home if you can.

First Line, Last Line, Whatever

There’s something wrong with this advertisement for flu vaccination services:

Flyer advertising flu vaccine: Your First Line of Defense Against the Flu

The slogan just bugs me, because they got the metaphor wrong.

Think about it: Vaccines work by training your body’s immune system to recognize a particular type of germ ahead of time, so that if you get exposed to the real thing later on, you can fight it off before it actually manages to make you sick. In terms of a warfare metaphor, it’s about training the troops who guard the home front so that if the enemy successfully invades past your borders, you can fight them off before they become entrenched.

The first line of defense would be something that stops them from invading in the first place. A well-defended border, in terms of ground troops. The Coast Guard in terms of sea. Radar and anti-aircraft missiles to identity and shoot down incoming enemy aircraft.

Your first line of defense against the flu? That would be your skin.

So wash your hands!


Flu Away

I finally got my H1N1 flu shot today. My allergist called me this morning to say that they’d gotten five — yes, just 5 — doses of the vaccine, and wanted to know if I wanted one.

The CDC has been recommending for months that anyone with chronic respiratory conditions (*cough* asthma *cough*) get both the swine flu and seasonal flu vaccines, so I asked about it the last time I was in for a check-up. The office was expecting it sometime in October. That stretched out to late October, then November, then they began to wonder if they were going to get it at all.

Distribution on this thing has been just abysmal. I mean, I got the seasonal flu shot in September. And there have been other areas of the country that got so many doses they started offering them to the general public more than a month ago, because they didn’t have enough people in high-risk groups who wanted it.

Meanwhile, H1N1 proceeded to establish itself as the main flu of the season. I wasn’t terribly enthused about the possibility of being completely wiped out for several days and quarantining myself for another week afterward…

I did research other sources, though perhaps not as thoroughly as I could have. I checked in a couple of times at my regular doctor’s office, but they were in the same boat. I checked Google Flu Shot [Edit: This was a service that let you search Google Maps for flu shot providers that had the vaccine in stock, and is no longer available.] at least once a week after it launched, though it was always either empty or full of locations marked “Temporarily out of stock.”

Actually, I’d pretty much written it off at this point, figuring the vaccine would be available sometime in, I don’t know, February or March, by which time I’d either have gotten the flu or wouldn’t be getting it this year anyway. When my phone rang I figured it had something to do with an appointment I’d rescheduled.

For the record: no noticeable side effects (so far), and hardly any pain. My shoulder hurts less than it did after the seasonal flu shot I got a few months ago, and even that didn’t hurt much (and only after a few hours). Also, there was a patient survey and information sheet that went along with it instead of the standard “I solemnly swear that I am not allergic to eggs” (they grow the vaccine in eggs) waiver.

Status, Android C&D and Marketing

  • From @lol_spam:

    Spam subject: “Your decent watch will upgrade your status.” You mean I won’t need my phone to update Facebook? AWESOME! #

  • WTF? Google C&Ds Android modder Cyanogen. Isn’t it supposed to be licensed open-source in the first place? # The cease-and-desist order is about Google’s apps (Maps, Gmail, etc.) that are pre-installed, not about the operating system itself, but still, it feels like a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the license.
  • Odd: it took 3 hours for my shoulder to get sore after the flu shot. Still, NOTHING compared to last year’s tetanus shot. Now THAT hurt! #
  • This XKCD comic reminds me of the “uranium-free pizza” joke from some scouting event way back when. #