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It's flu season. Cue the media hysteria!
Influenza is rampant across the nation, and New Jersey is smack in the middle of what local physicians are calling an epidemic.
Phew, for a minute there I thought it was a pandemic.
"It's here. Big time," said Dr. Thomas Birch, president of the medical staff at Holy Name Medical Center. "When the virus comes into a community with susceptible individuals, it will literally spread like those wildfires in California that burn everything in their path."
The onslaught of the illness marks the first time in about a decade that influenza is so prevalent this early in the year — 41 states are reporting widespread flu activity. More than 2,200 people nationwide have been hospitalized and 18 children have died, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Eighteen children have died! Why hasn't Joe Biden convened a White House task force yet? I demand a sensible germ control program!
So many people are sick that St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson on Monday treated a record number of patients — 514 compared with about 420 it normally sees, said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, chairman of emergency medicine at St. Joseph's Healthcare System, which has hospitals in Paterson and Wayne.
The city hospital admitted 90 patients, up sharply from the 60 to 65 typically kept for treatment on any given day.
The flu is spreading fast — and it's virulent, doctors said.
"This has a ferociousness I've never seen before," Rosenberg said. This is the worst I've seen as far as how quickly it came on."
Got that? Worst. Flu. Ever.
Better hide in a cave until it blows over.
OK, sarcasm aside, yes we should take the flu seriously. But overwrought hysteria just scares the children. Last night Sophie went out with a friend, and her friend's mom was glued to the radio reports, hushing the two girls when they wanted to talk about something other than Death!, Doom!, and Infection Vectors!
Scared the crap out of her, she did. Especially the tearful, wrenching admonition to Get A Flu Shot Before You Die! Um, OK. Please don't terrify the children. Thanks. Really. Sophie was pretty upset. "Am I going to die, Daddy?" No, Sophie. We'll get you a flu shot. "Thanks Daddy! Can I have a hug?" Sure!
Adding to the fun, it's a new flu.
This winter has been worse than previous years because of the type of influenza. It's a new strain (H3N2) and few people have built up an immunity.
Physicians say it is not too late to get a flu a shot and this year's vaccine is well suited to the strain they are seeing. The state's Department of Health says the best way to combat the problem is by getting the flu vaccine, and offers a Find a Flu Shot Locator on their website.
Whew. There's a flu shot clinic right across the street. I'm saved!
The rest of you. Feel free to panic. Just not in front of my daughter, OK?
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