The Quick 10: 10 Flu Facts

It's flu shot time around here, so I guess I have the flu on the brain. I thought if I did, maybe you guys do too, so I did a little research today.
WebMD and had a particularly interesting article on flu myths. I summarized a couple of their myths, but you can get the full article here. Disclaimer, though: If you end up surfing around WebMD and diagnosing yourself with all kinds of horrible ailments (which I have a tendency to do), I take no responsibility.

flu

1. The flu vaccine can't give you the flu. The vaccines only contain a dead piece of the flu virus, and a dead virus can't infect you. There is a nasal vaccine that contains a live virus, but that particular vaccine is designed to seek and destroy the part of the virus that actually makes you sick.

2. You can treat the flu. Within 48 hours of contracting it, a doctor can prescribe antiviral medicine that will help. It's not going to get rid of it entirely, but it will lessen the time that you're curled up on the couch, watching bad daytime T.V. and wanting to die.

3. The Spanish Flu is the most well-known pandemic of the flu "“ it took out anywhere from 40 to 100 million people from 1918 to 1920. It was so severe that it registered a Level 5 on the Pandemic Severity Scale, which is the highest level that exists. The mortality rate was incredibly high "“ some estimates say up to 20 percent. People that got it and survived, though, include FDR, Walt Disney, Mary Pickford, General Pershing and Woodrow Wilson.

sykes4. Recently (September), Sir Mark Sykes of England was dug up so scientists could study the Spanish Flu virus, hoping to understand more about the current bird flu. Even though Sykes has been six feet under for the past 90 years, the fact that he was buried in a lead coffin makes scientists hope that the virus has been preserved.

5. In the U.S. alone, the flu season results in 36,000-ish deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations. As if those facts weren't painful enough, the flu costs Americans a collective $10 billion annually.

6. While we have the Freshman 15, the Brits have Freshers Flu. Up to 90 percent of people during their first few weeks at college end up getting sick, and whether it's actually the flu or not (it's usually just a cold), the nickname has a nice ring to it.

7. People who say they have the "stomach flu" probably don't really have the flu. It's just a nickname that came about because you feel crappy in similar ways to the real flu. But, WebMD says, if you don't have fever or body ache, you likely don't have the flu "“ just a gastrointestinal virus of some sort.

8. This one is Snopes-verified "“ Donald Rumsfeld owns stock in Gilead Sciences, the company that makes Tamiflu. Tamiflu, for those that don't know (I didn't), is a drug that can reduce the severity of the flu. It's one of those drugs I mentioned up in #2. Some people think this is a big conspiracy theory "“ that the avian flu and other strains have become a huge deal in recent years because the government, including Rumsfeld, wanted to make a tidy profit from his stocks. Seems a little farfetched to me, but"¦ who knows?

9. The flu has been around for a loooong time "“ Hippocrates wrote of an illness with a description closely matching today's modern flu symptoms.

10. The most recent flu pandemic was the Hong Kong Flu in 1968-69, which registered as a Level 2 on the Pandemic Severity Index. About 500,000 people were infected in Hong Kong, about 50 million were infect in the U.S. Around 34,000 of those 50 million died.

P.S.: Ryan reminded me in the comments that I said I was going to work Clark Gable into my Q10 all week. So, here are your farfetched Gable-related bits of flu trivia:

  • Gable was probably less likely than most to catch the flu because he had a "fetish for cleanliness", according to his biographer, David Bret.
  • One evening, he told his wife, Kay, he thought he was coming down with the flu because he was feeling poorly. He went to bed early. The next day, he was changing the tire on his Jeep when he he started having severe chest pains - the flu-like symptoms were actually a sign of his oncoming heart attack.
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    College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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    One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

    The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

    As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

    Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

    “They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

    A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

    The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

    [h/t The New York Times]

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    North America: East or West Coast?
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