David Gray MD: Addressing flu concerns
September 28, 2009
In her letter of Sept. 26, Carrie Brown stated that there were questions that needed to be answered. Let me try to help. She asked, “How does one die from the flu?” Usually flu causes death in someone who is already debilitated, but H1N1 is peculiar, in that it provokes something called a “cytokine storm.” This is a gross over-reaction of the immune system, in which our immune system expends all its capability in its first reaction to the virus, leaving nothing in reserve. It is analogous to the US firing all its nuclear warheads at two terrorists who rowed ashore in New Jersey. This is why swine flu has caused death in young healthy people, the opposite of traditional flu strains-they tend to have the healthiest, strongest immune systems.
The next question was “why does the Health Department refuse to test?” This is because the test is very expensive, and would be an absolute waste of your tax dollars. Whether a person has Swine or any other type of flu, wouldn’t change the treatment one iota. That is the truth. Ms. Brown asked, “if it was political?” and “Would H1N1 hurt our skier visits?” I don’t think so. This is a pandemic, Ms. Brown- – it’s everywhere. If people were absolutely prudent, they wouldn’t leave home to go to work, much less come to Summit County to ski. Calm down, ma’am, its just the flu. Use sensible precautions, like coughing into your elbow, don’t kiss sick people, stay home if you’re sick. Our health department seems to be doing a good job. My sincere condolences to the family of the young man who succumbed to the illness, and Godspeed to the youngster who is currently hospitalized.