Clay's Clincher: The UIL Got It, Get It?

Get one thing straight: The UIL postponing all athletic events for the next two weeks isn't a panic move.

Not even close.

Anyone who suggests otherwise is diminishing the concerns the public, and in particular, high school students and their parents should have over the new H1N1 influenza strain spreading quickly throughout the United States.

If you do realize how serious this outbreak is, if you do understand the speed with which it's spreading, if you do agree with the recent decisions to close schools in the Valley, in Texas, and across the country, then you must agree with the UIL's decision.

Any other conclusion is not only laughable and ludicrous, but dangerous.

The UIL wasn't hasty, they were decisive. That is shown with every passing day and every closed school added to the already lengthy list.

The UIL wasn't acting from an overabundance of fear, they were acting in the best interests of the athletes involved.

Is the concern over H1N1 warranted? Is there an excess of drama? Read the following, then decide.

Q: What exactly occurs in people who die from swine flu? What is going on in the body?

A: We think that the body makes a very exuberant immune response to swine flu and that there is something called a cytokine storm. And parenthetically, cytokines are mediators of the immune response and mediators of inflammation. And in individuals who have this cytokine storm, or overly exuberant immune response, there's a great deal of inflammation in the lung. And in addition, there may be severe drops in blood pressure.

Q: Who is most at risk?

A: In this instance, it seems to be young adults and adolescents rather than the very young and the very old. In most traditional influenza outbreaks, it's the very young and the very old and the immuno-compromised that seem to be most vulnerable. And in this instance it seems to be more affecting vigorously healthy people.Those are the ones who are capable of mounting this cytokine storm.

-Dr. Ruth E. Berggren, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center and director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics

Get it now? Vigorously healthy young adults and adolescents are most at risk.

High school athletes are most at risk.

That's why all sporting events must stop immediately. Restricting athletic competition will prevent the spread of H1N1.

If there's no flu within a school, then there's no epidemic. But thousands of kids at a regional track meet?

A giant petri dish.

Hundreds of parents and relatives and friends in the bleachers and at the concession stands at baseball and softball games?

Just asking for trouble.

Never forget, young, healthy people can die from this virus.

Yes, the UIL is saying kids can go to school, as long as there's no influenza at the school. But they should not, must not meet in competition.

For pete's sake, the symptoms of this thing don't even show up until 24 hours after contraction in some cases.

Yes, washing your hands, keeping athletic areas and equipment sterilized, and sending ill-feeling athletes home are all good ideas to help the spread of H1N1.

But postponing games for a few weeks could go far in keeping this thing from becoming a full blown epidemic.

And if the final 4 weeks of school needs to be canceled to help that along, so be it.

And whatever else needs to be done, then do that too.

Anything goes when it comes to saving the lives of the young people threatened by this virus.

The UIL understands this. I hope everyone else does as well.

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