I've also been following the swine flu news. First of all, stop panicking. The media feeding frenzy on this story is getting ridiculous. Yes, it's news. Yes, it's something to be concerned about, and certainly something worth monitoring. But there's no need to panic. It's still very early in the investigation, and the strain has proven to be responsive to common medicines like Tamiflu. The high schoolers in New York City didn't even need anti-viral medication. So please, don't overreact just yet. Monitor the news, keep abreast of the situation, wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. But don't break out the little masks just yet.
Instead, pick up a copy of John M. Barry's The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. It's an utterly fascinating read about the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 100 million people in less than two years. Barry's histories are always excellent (check out Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America - a very prescient work in light of what happened on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005), and this book is no different. It's a meticulously-researched story of medicine, war, and human nature, illuminating a chapter of history that many people aren't aware of. It's also a bit eerie in the sense that the 1918 flu targeted young, seemingly healthy individuals - the only real parallel I can find thus far between the 1918 outbreak and the current swine flu situation. Great book, great read, very informative and timely.
All in all, it's a pretty day and a good start to the week. So stay safe, and don't freak out. May's just around the corner, and here in Charleston, it already feels like summer.