Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's going to come, and it's going to be bad

It's fall in Canada, and thoughts are once again on hockey, cold weather, and the latest avian flu.Now I don't mean to scare people, but I'd like to point out some facts for your consideration.

Each year a new strain of influenza spreads out from China and east Asia. Each year our health officials sound the warning, and for the most part the situation is dealt with. The danger is that we are due for a pandemic of horrific proportions. Those aren't my words, they are the words of scientists around the world, who not only study biological and viral changes, but also know the historical events and tragedies of past pandemics. They say we are due, past due actually, and even they can not predict what the next strain will look like, or who will be most affected by it.

The influenza pandemic of 1918 took the lives of primarily those between the ages of 20 - 40.The elderly and the very young were largely unaffected. The devestation to both the population and the economies of the world are well documented - most experts put the total human loss at 50 million persons, some say more. Yet even today with all the advancements our present society holds over those just three generations removed, we are just as susceptible, even more so.

Mass transit puts us in direct physical contact with each other.Rapid international transit puts diverse cultures and peoples within mere hours of each other. Those are the facts, and they should give us pause. So is the next pandemic inevitable? Yes, it is. Will it only affect a certain median of the population, like the one of 1918? No one can predict.

So what are we to do?

Well, start with what you can control. Be dilligent with your own personal hygiene. Wash you hands and face before and after you eat, and do the same when you use a restroom. Don't assume your friends practise good hygene, that's not insulting, it's just preventative care on your part. Get a flu shot this fall, and every fall. It won't guarantee an immunity against an outbreak, but studies have shown that it may lessen the severity and duration of an influenza illness.

One last thing, if you are sick, for the love of mike - stay home! You can re-take an exam; there'll be another concert at another time; you're not that valuable to the running of a company; and heaven knows no job is worth your health or mine. Control what you can, and the rest is in the hands of providence.

Now go wash your hands!


Blogger Melanie Holubowski said...

Just a comment on the flu shot - i don't necessarily recommend it for people that are not sick or working in a public environment (e.g. hospital or elementary school). The vaccine is often not that effective - because it is good for only ONE STRAIN of influenza, usually, based on the one from the previous year.

A pandemic will occur with a virulent strain that no one knew about - germs like to surprise us! so even if you get that flu shot, chances are you will be affected by the pandemic.

The only good tips are keeping clean (DO NOT USE antibacterial soaps and hand creams. regular soap kills 99 per cent of bacteria.)
Too much antibacterial stuff will kill your immune system and make you EVEN MORE susceptible to the killer virus.

Take it from one who has studied physiology. You can't mess with nature.

you can run from the flu, but you can't hide...

2:15 PM  
Blogger Darcy O'Brien said...

I'm sorry Mel, but I absolutely disagree on your take of a flu shot.

I personally had a very severe case five years ago. Before that I was one of those people who snickered at those who would get one, each year like clock work. I had severe vomitting and diarrhoea for three days and nights.

How severe? As soon as I was finished with the face forward ejections, I had to immediately swing around and sit down for the second round. Three days straight! I would bet my eyesight that I didn't even get one hour of sleep in that period. It was so bad I actually thought about knocking my self out by letting my head hit the edge of my bathtub.

Now there are no guarantees in life, but since then I've taken a shot each year, and I haven't even had so much as a temperature since. I hardly believe that comes down to just plain luck.

A flu shot is preventative, it is pointless to take it if you already have it. The point of the shot, is to give you a mild dose of the flu so your body can manufacture enough antibodies to combat the real deal later on. Yes of course your right on about a pandemic, that really can't be headed off. However, most physicians recommed a shot for the elderly and the very young, and only caution against taking it if an individual might be harmed by it (heart disorders, and the like).

I have a large family, and I can tell you that those of us who sail through the flu season, take a yearly shot. Also when we do get the flu, it is never as incapaciting as what befells our friends and neighbours.

I am no expert, so my point of view is only gospel to me, but in this circumstance I err on the side of two old school standards; "An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure." and " If it ain't broke..."

7:58 PM  
Blogger Sikander said...

I always get the shot.

5:52 AM  

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