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Published: Wednesday, 11/23/2005

Hold Tamiflu and pass the turkey

That Americans are so concerned about bird flu that many considered not having turkey for Thanksgiving is a sign that media coverage may be frightening people more than educating them. In the interest of education, the Lucas County Regional Health District Board has asked that I convey their concern regarding a recent Blade editorial suggesting "just-in-case" prescriptions of Tamiflu for avian influenza.

Personal stockpiling of this antiviral medicine is not only inappropriate, it is irresponsible. In terms of public health, several facts need consideration:

●As with the inappropriate use of antibiotics, there is a great risk that symptoms not related to avian flu would prompt people to initiate unnecessary treatment with antivirals;

●The inappropriate use of an antiviral may contribute to the problem of rapid development of a virus resistant to that drug, making the drug useless in the event of an actual bird flu outbreak;

●There has been no transmission to humans of the avian flu in the United States, but ill-advised personal stockpiling of Tamiflu has led to a significant shortage of this drug to confront the more immediate risk of human influenza-related illness and deaths that occur in our community annually.

To suggest that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and physicians who caution against just-in-case prescriptions are playing the "authority-figure card" implies that your editorialist must not realize that it is infinitely easier to write a prescription than to have lengthy conversations with patients explaining public health principles. The responsible use of antivirals for flu is critical to the health of the public.

So, pass the turkey but hold the Tamiflu.

Donna Woodson, M.D.

Board President

Toledo-Lucas County

Health Department

There is worldwide anxiety and concern about the possibility of a bird-flu pandemic. In the face of ominous speculation by the President and admitted inadequate vaccine availability by the sole supplier, it is irresponsible for The Blade to impugn the integrity of the medical profession and berate the American Medical Association-American Academy of Pediatrics for their opposition to "personal stockpiling" of vaccine.

Dramatic 20th century advances in science and technology, combined with public access to health information and patient education, have helped transform the traditional doctor-patient relationship into a more effective working "partnership." This change should be viewed as a positive influence on improving health care. It is anathema to denigrate the knowledge and expertise of physicians, as well as their ethical and legal responsibilities to patients, while heralding a "new era" in health care.

It would behoove The Blade to offer more rational and productive commentary on a potentially global health disaster.

HOWARD S. MADIGAN

Sylvania

The month of November is the time to pay tribute to all military veterans. Their dedication and bravery displayed on a daily basis is a source of great inspiration. I've seen an example of this firsthand.

Our son-in-law, a 22-year Army veteran, has just returned from nearly a year in Iraq and has spent a total of 18 months there since March, 2003. Our daughter is deeply involved in a group that supports the families of troops deployed overseas. Their two oldest sons have already decided to join the military: One is in ROTC at college, and the other, who flew solo on his 16th birthday, plans to go into military aviation.

Their family is not unique. There are thousands of military families like them, many of whom have had several generations serving our country. Whether they were at Normandy or Iwo Jima, in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, Somalia, the Gulf War, or Iraq today, our veterans have tenaciously defended our freedom. Their bravery, patriotism, and sacrifice should humble all Americans. They carry out their responsibilities with quiet and unassuming determination and intensity. They understand the enormous risk they face as they protect our country, yet they ask little in return.

Since our country's birth, we have faced many enemies. Today is no different. There are vicious terrorist elements that would destroy the United States if they had the chance. But thankfully our brave men and women in uniform stand in their way. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. We can never repay them enough for keeping our nation safe. But at least we can say "Thank You and God Bless" to all who have served our country so admirably.

RICHARD KETTEMAN

Sylvania

I'm an 85-year-old independent voter, independent because I'm often fed up with the shenanigans of both major parties. Today I'm fed up with President Bush and his recent "deeply irresponsible" critical remark against anyone who objects to the Iraq War. You bet I object to this war, just as I did the Vietnam fiasco. Then, too, those who objected were dubbed "unpatriotic," "anti-American," etc.

As for citizens like me hindering the war effort and placing our brave soldiers at risk, that's just plain drivel! I love this country and appreciate as much as anyone the heroic efforts of our servicemen. But I'm also thankful that I have the right and the privilege to express my views and criticize the President and government officials as I see fit.

This war has done nothing to improve our status in the world, has taken too many lives of our service men and women (to say nothing of the innocent victims in Iraq), and has placed a financial burden on this country that is incalculable.

Tell me, Mr. President, as the patriot you claim to be, when will you give some consideration to citizens here who prefer peace, government accountability, honest officials, an administration that strives to support those in need, and a standard of living that promotes equality for all Americans? We're waiting.

VIRGINIA M. NICHOLS

Sylvania

In just about every field those who know the most are often told they're doing things all wrong by those who know little or nothing.

Plumbers I've known, and electricians, carpenters, masons, and roofers, report being told on a regular basis by people who barely know which end of the pliers to hold that they're doing it wrong.

Secretaries, physicians, teachers, mail carriers all have to deal with the same thing, and I've seen many, many letters telling you that you don't know how to edit a newspaper. So why should bicyclists be exempt?

Your Nov. 6 editorial, "Bikes on the sidewalks," referred to a debate before City Council's law and criminal justice committee. There was no debate. Four expert cyclists, with many years and tens of thousands of miles of experience, among whom were a professional traffic engineer and a bike shop owner, all said that legalizing the use of sidewalks by adult cyclists is a bad idea.

A Toledoan who had been involved in a collision with a truck gave a personal illustration of why riding on the sidewalk is dangerous: Approaching the place where a driveway crossed the sidewalk, neither he nor the driver of the truck was aware of the other's approach until it was too late for either to react. Had he really been on Alexis Road, as you said he was, the two vehicles' operators would have had much more time to react to each other, and the collision would have been much less likely.

You call for the penalizing of bikers who ride on the sidewalk without due regard for safety. You already have your wish. Those who know how to ride safely use the street. Those who ride on the sidewalk are penalized with a higher incidence of collision.

HOWARD ABTS

Ogden Avenue

Would someone please explain to the Bush Administration that in regard to capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the rules are not the same as playing horseshoes? Close is worth nothing to the American people, no points earned, so please stop announcing "we just missed"!

Doug Abodeely

Sylvania



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