Message to members
What if a simple
case of the flu lasted for years?
Nile Virus. SARS. Flu. Health topics that ignite fear and panic.
Newspaper headlines and popular TV shows fuel the public’s worries about being
healthy one minute and seriously ill the next. However, anthrax poisoning, West
Nile and SARS are relatively rare and somewhat exotic,
making it easier to feel comfortably distant and safe from their effects. But
flu is everywhere; it even has its own season.
An average of 114,000 Americans are hospitalized and 36,000
die every year from the flu. Experts warn that we’re overdue for a flu pandemic,
in which a new strain emerges to which no one is immune. In 1918 a flu pandemic
took 20 million lives worldwide. Public health officials admit there is no game
plan to respond if a new strain evolved today.
This year’s particularly virulent strain, an unprecedented
shortage of vaccine and media focus on children’s deaths have intensified public
concern about flu. Nobody wants to get it. Nobody has “time” to be sick for a
week or two. Imagine how people would panic if this year’s strain caused an
illness that lasted for months or years?
Yet, isn’t that what CFIDS
is, in its simplest form? A vicious flu that doesn’t subside, that wreaks havoc
on most major body systems and upsets subtle chemical pathways. A flu that turns
a couple days of sick leave into short-term, then long-term disability. A flu
that saps stamina, intellect, bank accounts and hope. A flu that steals lives
rather than ending them. A pandemic the experts haven’t recognized yet.
In this new year we are testing novel ways to get the public’s
attention on CFIDS. We’re focusing more
resources than ever on educating health care providers about diagnosing and
managing CFIDS. We are intensifying efforts to
expand CFIDS research
and strengthen public health measures. In 2004 we intend to
make important progress on all these fronts. We hope you will continue to
support The CFIDS Association in these critical
K. Kimberly Kenney