Everyone remain calm, it’s just seasonal allergies!

Melissa Stagnaro

The talk of our little newsroom on Lackawanna Ave Monday was swine flu. There was sharing of information, speculation and even a bit of wonderment over high school kids going to Mexico over Spring Break. There was also a heck of a lot of coughing, sneezing and blowing of noses. At least in my cubicle, anyway.

You see, my seasonal allergies chose the same time as swine flu to strike. Despite a regular dose of my histamine-blocker of choice, all of that pollen got the better of me. If you are looking for something to invest in, might I suggest the makers of Puffs Plus?

To the best of my knowledge I haven’t been canoodling with any pigs, nor have I made any recent trips south of the border, so it never crossed my mind that the cause of my sinuses kicking into overdrive could be from something as insidious as swine flu. Yet I still felt the need, well more of a compulsion really, to inform everyone I came in contact with that my sniffling was allergy related. I even posted it on Facebook. (I told you it was a compulsion.)

I’m not a hypochondriac by any means. Unlike my friend Rachel, who was convinced she had SARS several years ago. Boy, was she wrong. (Literally. It turned out she was pregnant with her son Colby.) But many people are easily influenced by the power of suggestion.

In fact, I’d wager some are probably more susceptible to the idea of swine flu than the actual virus. And what do you expect? We have media outlets are throwing around words like “pandemic,” governments issuing travel advisories and health officials describing symptoms so ambiguous they could be anything from a common cold to a hangover.

My favorite so far is a directive issued by an official from the Philippines, advising people to avoid kissing or hugging in public. I know, I know. They are probably telling people to avoid these this type of behavior when greeting someone, but doesn’t it sound a bit like, “Get a room!”

I’m not the only one trying to find a bit of humor in the situation, mostly to avoid panic. One of my college friends, Nick, posted a comment (also on Facebook) saying that between Mad Cow disease, avian flu and now swine flu it sounded like breakfast was trying to have its revenge.

Does that mean vegetarians are immune?

I’m clinging to those bad jokes, because lets face it, the idea of a pandemic is scary. Swine flu, a quickly mutating virus which attacks the strong harder than the weak, has the potential to wreak havoc with the world.

So what can we do to minimize our risk of becoming a statistic? After reading through all of the advisories being given by various health organizations, I think I can sum it up quite simply with the acronym WWAMD.

When faced with a social situation, just asked yourself, “What would Adrian Monk do?” The answer: Don’t touch anything you don’t have to, don’t shake hands, wash your hands often and carry plenty of wipes. And if you act odd enough, people will avoid you on their own accord thus avoiding the need for unnecessary social interaction.

So far there have been 65 reported cases in the U.S, none of which as far as I know are in upstate New York. And I would like to state one more time, for the record, that these are just seasonal allergies.

No siree, no swine flue here. Just high pollen counts.