In the Loop

Catching H1N1 on purpose? Experts (and anyone with common sense) say 'don't do it!'

Posted at 1:46 PM on May 7, 2009 by Sanden Totten (1 Comments)

I imagine one of the worst parts of catching the dreaded H1N1 flu would be all the press you'd get in your hometown media outlets: "Local weirdo now has Swine Flu . . ."

Of course, after that everyone would be afraid to shake hands or talk to you, they'd clear the way where ever you go . . . wait, that part sounds kinda nice. But that's not why some people are thinking about purposely catching the flu.

"Hey, you want some of this?"
Photo by pinkangelbabe via Creative Commons
Debates are cropping up on flu websites and in medical circles about the merits of catching Swine Flu on purpose. The thought is, if you catch it now you'll build up immunity against the flu before it stages a bigger, badder comeback later this year. Experts seem to come to the same conclusion: not worth it. Who knows how sick the current virus will make you, plus it might not even return in the fall . . . and then you got sick for nothing!

However, the idea has given folks like Michael Olesen, chief of infection control at Abbott Northwestern hospital in Minneapolis, reason to stop washing his hands with the vigor of an OCD patient:

"When he heard about the outbreak, he said, he bought extra facemasks and had been planning to wear one on a flight to Detroit soon. 'Now I'm thinking of taking my chances' and forgoing the mask, he said. 'That's a change from a week ago. I think to myself, yeah, I'll be miserable for a week -- but that'll beat maybe being seriously sick later.'"

Since my hands are chapped like the knees of an elephant from all this washing, I'm inclined to go with Olesen's philosophy on this one. But I agree, catching the flu intentionally is not for me. I can't afford the sick time and besides, does my social life really need to be stigmatized with this head line: "Local weirdo now has Swine Flu . . . ON PURPOSE!"

Comments (1)

Anyone who even contemplates intentionally catching Influenza is nuts. Or has never actually had Influenza. I've had it twice that I can recall in the past 43 years. Once in 1994 and once last March. It is a truly memorable experience. This isn't 'the flu' as some euphemism for 'I'm sick'.

Influenza is physically hazardous. Thousands of people die from it every year. Admittedly, you chances of dying when you drive to work tomorrow are much higher.

Just because you're statistically likely to survive something (Flu/Driving to Work) doesn't mean you should embrace the risk.

Posted by Elizabeth T | May 17, 2009 11:41 PM

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