H1N1 hype bigger than flu’s bite


I am reminded of a “Peanuts” cartoon in which Snoopy has just returned from a family reunion. After queried about the event, Snoopy’s disappointed thought bubble reads something similar to, “the anticipation far outweighed the actual event.”

This is a bit how I am feeling about the H1N1 virus or, as it is commonly referred to, the swine flu.

This is not to be confused with the N1H1 virus, which is actually Influenza A. (You needn’t worry about contracting N1H1, as the media has not yet wet itself over a tizzy of televised and printed revelry.)

You should also not confuse it with HINI, which is an acronym for either the Heinz Infant Nutrition Institute or the Hostelling International Northern Ireland.

However, both of these institutes give reason for dread as each involves highly obnoxious subjects: hosting large amounts of youth and baby food. I’ll let you decide which is which.

As for the H1N1 virus, I must admit I am slightly disappointed. I feel it is failing to live up to the hype.

In addition to the media nearly knocking itself into a coma by trying to come up with some sort of breaking update every other minute, Tabor College was also quite adamant about the seriousness of the bug.

Earlier this semester a large batch of posters appeared all over campus to educate students about the swine flu.

These posters listed the symptoms and gave very specific instructions on what to do in the event that a student comes down with the H1N1 virus.

In all actuality, an eviction notice would probably do the job just as well as the poster’s instructions on how to proceed after contracting the swine flu.

Here I am imagining a black-and-white Western film with the sheriff walking down the middle of a dusty Main Street toward a man dressed all in black, with a thermometer in his mouth and a box of tissues—ready for a quick draw—at his hip.

The sheriff gets 10 feet away and stops, his spurs jingling, and says with a thick drawl, “You got two hours to clear out of this town before you blow your nose clean off.”

Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic. The posters were a nice gesture, really. I understand that the purpose was to give some clear guidelines about the virus.

But when one considers that the symptoms of the swine flu are actually quite similar to those of the normal seasonal flu—fever, cough, sore throat, runny and stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue—a certain level of paranoia manifests.

If my memory serves, the beginning of October was host to a program of pandemic panic.

At that point, rumors about “who got it” were circulating with greater potency than the actual influenza.

I found myself using alcohol-based hand sanitizer every time I saw a dispenser—which was quite frequently, as Tabor dispersed several around campus— and I started popping Vitamin C drops like an addict.

Tabor even has its own e-mail account set up specifically for sick students to report their flu-ness to the authorities so they wouldn’t have to leave their room and infect innocent passersby.

I only have one friend who managed to get the H1N1 virus, and I am happy to report that he is quite alive and well.

He and I were roommates last year, and when he was sick last year I was the one who told him to put his two-tablespoons dose of cherry cough syrup into a glass of Sierra Mist to make it taste better.

This actually turned out to be a rather unpleasant experience for him, which I assumed from the disgusted face he had after trying it.

Considering he has survived both that and the swine flu, I’d say he is now capable of making it through nearly anything. And, as far as I know, the entire campus has endured through the days of paranoia.

Aside from vaccines being available on campus last week, the H1N1 scene has not been bugging us.

I attribute this hardiness to that fact that we, as a collective student body, are capable of crossing D Street at an incredibly slow pace without getting rundown by motorists who are either in a hurry or unable to see due to the dust.

It might have something to do with Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. Or this all could just be speculation from the Peanuts gallery.


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