Swine Flu and Pigskin

base_mediaWonder if someone is going to attach a Purell dispenser to the goalposts at Ohio Stadium? Or if a sousaphone player will have to display a Handi Wipe before dotting the “i” in Script Ohio?

I don’t know why I worry about these things. But I do. And here’s what got me started.

Yesterday I had my yearly eye exam. (Yes, I can finally see again after the bout with dilated pupils.) And actually the exam got off to a rocky start. Here’s why.

The doc came in the room and I reached out to shake his hand. Big mistake.

Doc: “Don’t shake hands any more because of swine flu.”

Me: “Well, if you have swine flu, I’ll reschedule.”

Not even a smile or a chuckle. And OK. I admit. Not quite a LOL moment.

But I wonder if this is where we are headed for the next few months (years?). No handshakes, high-fives, pecks on the cheek to strangers at the grocery store and so on? Maybe so.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported this morning (via a Columbus Dispatch article by Tom May) that the Ohio State Buckeyes are “giving up shaking hands out of fear of catching flu.”

Oh, mama. Swine flu and pigskin.

This doesn’t appear to be a laughing matter — at least to college administrators, coaches and players.

And some newspapers now are adding to reports of team injuries by providing a “flu update.”

OK. I’m not taking lightly the potential for a major health problem caused by swine flu. (I can’t remember the official name. Is it R2-D2? Sorry.) Many — students and others — have already been sick with flu and some deaths have been reported recently and last spring. Others are at risk. And even with a vaccine available in October, many will face serious flu and need treatment.

And this situation represents a challenge to public health officials and many others, including communicators. How do you encourage a “measured” level of prevention, without scaring people to the point where they are afraid to shake hands in a doctor’s office and where they hug the Purell dispenser like they do a toilet after an all-night kegger?

So in spirit of public service — and in an effort to save football season — here’s advice from Dr. Oz about how to prevent getting the swine flu.

I’m off now to wash my hands.

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