EDITOR’S NOTE: Flu is out there , so keep watch everyone

There are lots of things that will make us sick, even kill us. Some we can avoid (cigarettes); some are so ubiquitous (the flu) that they are hard to keep at arm’s length.

We can’t avoid the swine flu, which the health department says is so widespread that it’s, well, everywhere. We can’t isolate it by closing schools, so there’s no reason to take that type of draconian measure reserved for massive pandemics.

But what we can do is watch for it. No, it’s not going to go “oink” in the night. This particular virus is common in pigs (thus the name), but you can’t get it from a pig or pork. It’s transmitted human to human. Let’s call it by its formal name, H1N1 virus. Or maybe not.

We already know that the media has overblown the potential threat the virus poses, after its “discovery” in Mexico. But, boy has it spread, or at least been identified now that health officials are looking for it. Earlier this week, there were 307 confirmed cases in King County. The first rush of cases in the county was just a few short weeks ago.

On the other hand, there’s also the danger of under-reacting to any flu that continues to spread across the globe, raising the alert level to the highest possible, and that potentially could come back with a vengeance next fall.

Of course, we’re concerned about what’s happening here in Renton. We only knew for sure that one Renton boy, an 11-year-old student at Renton Park Elementary School, was a confirmed case of the flu. Then word reached the school district that a student at Lindbergh High School had recently recovered from the swine flu. The notice had not come from the health department, which is no longer giving the hometown where each victim of the swine flu lives.

There could be more. We just don’t know. But don’t think out of sight, out of mind. At Lindbergh, the message apparently got through loud and clear that if a student is showing signs of the flu or any sickness, they should be kept at home. The numbers of absences reached into the hundreds after the school district sent a letter urging parents to keep an eye on their kids. We can hope that parents already were taking that precaution, not only at Lindbergh but at every Renton school.

Students who get sick at school are getting sent to the nurse, although that’s tough for a school district that can’t afford to have a nurse at every school. But I don’t think it’s the school district’s job to police the health of 13,000-some students, anyway. That’s the responsibility of parents, even when it means keeping a child home and missing work. That’s what we sign up for when we decide to have kids.

Anyway, I think the school district has been upfront about the need for hyper-vigilance, but not fear, when it comes to keeping an eye out for the flu. I think the health department still should give us more information about the locations of the confirmed swine-flu cases. I am of the mindset that people need to know what’s going on around them. Rumors can do more harm than good, especially when they are grounded in the lack of information.

To dust or to vacuum?

I had to ask that poll question about what comes first, the dusting or the vacuuming. I can tell you it’s a topic of discussion at my house on those rare occasions when I take on that cleaning chore. I like to dust first. My wife wants me to vacuum first. It just seems that vacuuming throws out a bunch of gunk. This is even a hot topic on the Internet. But you guys didn’t give me any ammuntion. The results were split 50-50. I guess I’ll just need to suck it up.


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