Educational Editorial: Swine Flu and Y2K

By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Swine Flu and Y2K have something in common: they were non-events. As the world approached 2000, systems engineers and their companies sold Y2K remedies like they were gas masks during WWII. Families shut down their computers in anticipation of the technological Armageddon.

It came and went, in the words of ts elliott: "not with a bang but a whimper."

The recent Swine Flu, H1N1, with 11 reported Virginia cases, 7 of them at Washington and Lee University, reached a crescendo when the World Health Organization declared its highest alert... and a pandemic.

Swine Flu has sickened more than 1750 worldwide with 600 cases in the US. Two people have died including a child who was visiting from Mexico. By comparison, the "regular" flu kills about 36,000 in the US each year.

This pandemic closed schools, mobilized the CDC and homeland security, and created hotlines across the country. It also, purely by name, nearly brought the pork industry to its knees with intense speculation about the integrity of a Virginia based company.

Well, for this relatively non-event, what should be the lesson for schools? Having confronted TB, friable asbestos, and the first publicized AIDS case in Virginia, I understand hysteria. For schools, this is not all bad. Young people don't attend schools by choice; they are there under compulsory attendance. School officials have a responsibility not only to care for someone, but for everyone. Continue to sound a reasonable alarm!

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