Being macho misplaced when fighting the flu

“We don’t want to make people overly paranoid here. You can reduce your risk of getting colds and flu by a few simple actions. You are always gambling with germs. You just want to keep the odds in your favor.”  —Charles Gerba

The facts of the matter are these: That St. Gabriel’s Hospital is full up, thanks to the latest flu epidemic, and that the hospitals in Brainerd and St. Cloud are now sending some patients to North Memorial in the Twin Cities for the same reason.

Word also comes that a 14-year-old girl died in the Twin Cities from the flu, as have 26 other Minnesotans.

Meanwhile, in a death-defying leap without logic, many Minnesotans continue to take no precautions, don’t get a flu shot, and assume that  somehow the laws of nature won’t affect them.

The laws of nature? Well, yes. We know that most winters are also known as “the cold and flu season” in these parts. We also know, once we reach adulthood, that we most likely will survive it.

However, once we reach adulthood, we should also know that nothing is guaranteed in this world, and we need to keep the odds in our favor.

While it’s true that colds are an enduring, seemingly incurable, malady for our species, the flu is a different set of viruses.

Yes, colds can lead to pneumonia, and those with compromised immune systems may die from that, but the likelihood of surviving remains good if you’re healthy otherwise.

Influenza, on the other hand, as the death of the 14-year-old so tragically shows, can be the end of any of us. Why would anybody want to risk their lives over something so dangerous? If you want to die prematurely, at least choose a noble cause, and stop pretending that the flu may be unpleasant, but it can’t hurt you.

There are things you can do, but the best step is to get a flu shot. It’s the best way to build up immunity.

Other preventative steps that help include frequent hand washing, staying away from people with flu-like symptoms, covering coughs and shaking fewer hands.

However, many cases are spread by airborne particles of the virus, so the other side of the issue is — if you have flu like symptoms stay home. Don’t go to work or school and infect your co-workers. They deserve better.

And so do you. Take some precautions today.