Remember SARS? SARS hit 6 years ago, exactly this time of year. I remember because I had this picture of a beautiful little girl waiting for me half a world away and the panic surrounding SARS was threatening my ability to go get her. Here are some of my thoughts from that time:
- Our pediatrician advised us not to travel. To me, that was like telling a woman in labor to NOT go to the hospital.
- I remember our yahoo group tracking the disease by province in China and watching it creep closer and closer to our daughters.
- I remember having to add surgical masks to our packing list.
- I remember landing in China and feeling unsure what to do or how to wear the goofy looking mask.
- We had to make some last minute flight changes to get into China before the country closed down to international adoption. We watched some families have to wait an extra three heartbreaking months to meet their daughter.
- I remember seeing all types of masks in China, including recycled bras.
- No one in our group would admit to not feeling well for fear of being suspected of having SARS.
- The hotel in Nanchang had sent most of their staff home so many services weren't available. The a/c was off and there were no screens in the open windows (we were on the 14th floor, I think!).
- We couldn't do any sightseeing because of SARS. (That was the most disappointing aspect.)
- Our pediatrician wouldn't see us until we'd be sequestered for 3 weeks upon our return to the states.
- And, the news cameras that met us at the airport. Not to report on the wonderful world of adoption, but on the brave families that faced SARS (yes, that's how it was reported). Nothing quite as humbling as arriving home after a 14 hour overseas flight, a sleepless night in LA, another flight to St. Louis that involved a child puking through all the remaining clean clothes and having said child TERRIFIED at all the people at the airport to meet her (including this giant of a man calling himself Dad and another little boy who was suddenly clinging just as tightly to HER new mom!) Add to that scene having a TV camera crew stick a camera in your face and want to conduct an interview. Proud moment, indeed. I looked and sounded idiotic. :)
SARS definitely affected our trip and left a lasting impression. And, as quickly as it burst into the news, it slowly died down and went away. Yes, people got sick and some people died. Yes, the precautions help prevent many others didn't became ill. But there was a great deal of unnecessary panic.
So, the newest scare is Swine Flu. One of my co-workers was sent in to be tested for Swine Flu today. I do hope she's feeling better, but I doubt it's swine flu.
I trust that common sense prevails over hysteria this time around.