2009 proved humanity is interconnected.....

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, January 3, 2010 2:09 AM
The year 2009 saw all people globally, rich, poor, young, and old, interconnected, whether they want to or not. And, furthermore, it proved that humans are intimately linked with birds, pigs and many other animals.

As different parts of the global economy continued to cave in earlier this year, almost everyone took a hit in one way or another.

Then, when we were down under, we started hearing about re-emergence of the swine flu virus that could randomly take innocent lives as it spread across the planet as fast as a Twitter rumour.

People paraded around with their faces half-concealed behind masks. Even airline as precaution were taking travellers’ temperatures and sending them away to doctors to obtain “fit-to-fly” certificates”! What kind of a double curse was this? It did sound scary.

Actually, flu epidemics are spread by the touching or random exchange of currency notes, coins etc among many other objects and surfaces. Coughing and sneezing also pass it onto another person’s space which in turn helps to spread the flu. And the surprising, low-profile culprit, the original host of almost all flu viruses, is actually birds.

To oversimplify, when virus-containing bird droppings get into a water supply, the recombining of germs can cause widespread sickness in humans and pigs as well. What a tragedy.

Why can’t we just kill the virus the same way we can overpower bacteria with antibiotics?

One problem is that viruses are not alive to begin with, so we can’t kill them. Viruses don’t eat, and they are not made up of cells. Viruses are just tiny organic substances that can only be seen with an electron microscope. A virus is basically just a strand of DNA or RNA wrapped in a jacket of protein. The only way a virus can reproduce at all is to invade a cell and hijack its control center, commanding it to manufacture more viruses. Sometimes the host cell will explode like a popped up balloon when it is filled to maximum capacity with viruses. Sometimes a virus instead crouches dormant in a host cell for months or years, waiting to attack.

A problem with flu virus in particular is that they are forever changing their genetic makeup, which means they can evade both our hit-or-miss vaccine recipes, antiviral symptom-relief drugs, and the flu antibodies we’ve already built up in our immune systems.

Another issue with flu viruses is that they are often transmitted before the initially infected person is even showing symptoms.

To make a person sick, first a virus has to make it past several lines of defense. First of all the skin which does keeps it out, but they get in through the nose, mouth, or even eyes. If this happens, the body in fact immediatly launches an all-out counterattack.

The most serious casualties during flu epidemics are often from sudden and intense immunologic firestorms in the lungs or other organs of previously healthy victims, often young adults. That’s why new strains of the flu like the latest version of H1N1 cause much alarm.

When the immune system is fighting off a milder flu attack, taking over-the-counter medicine can interfere with the healing process. Fever, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, and even vomiting and diarrhea are all the body’s attempts to deactivate or eliminate viruses from the body as quickly as possible.

The symptom of extreme fatigue should be seen as a signal to take some time out and rest, for a change, and let the immune system do its work. Don’t just suppress your symptoms and try to carry on as usual.

Schools and workplaces are finally realizing they need to relax their punitive attendance policies to avoid spreading viruses. Public health officials are also finally instructing people to cough and sneeze into their sleeves or a tissue (duh) instead of covering their mouths and releasing germs into their hands and then contaminating a handrail, door handle, computer keyboard, phone, ATM machine, etc.

Hope and pray 2010 brings all of us some immunity to face many such viruses. Keep in mind that though “Money goes from hand to hand, and the swine flu goes from man to man”, lets all be very vigilant and take care of ourselves and the people around us.

Here's wishing good health to all my blog readers during this entire year.

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