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  Weekly Feature (November 8, 2009)



H1N1: The Swine Flu
Brad's Weekly Feature


This year as never before students (and teachers) have been succumbing to a new (and dangerous) influenza: H1N1 or Swine Flu. It began as a serious outbreak in Mexico, but has since spread around the world, thus earning the name, "pandemic."

In British Columbia, we are now approximately midway through the second "wave" of the pandemic. For example, my sister's family was affected in the past two weeks. First her two sons became ill, then my sister, and finally her husband.

But not all were affected in the same way. By far, her husband had the most severe symptoms: high fever for days, severe chills, nausea, loss of appetite. After six days, I'm happy to report that he is feeling better. And, of course, the worry has been about the "What if?" By this I mean "What if he had been one of those rare individuals who ends up in hospital, fighting for his life?"

Remember that the authorities have called the symptoms of H1N1 "mild." But what happened to my brother in law seemed far from mild. Anyone who has had the real flu knows that influenza is not a mild illness. Typically, an individual with flu will miss at least a week of work, perhaps two. In a country where sick leave averages five or six days a year, ten missed days is a lot!

I know that I have had many questions about the flu this year. One, of course, concerns vaccination. Recently, I have read that, for the most part, the vaccine will be available to Canadians only after the second wave of flu has passed. I do not, however, blame the authorities; remember that the flu was only identified (and its DNA sequenced) in March of this year. It is remarkable how quickly a vaccine was created.

If you have questions about the current pandemic, I have found that The Globe and Mail's health reporter's question and answer section valuable, accurate and interesting: The daily H1N1 question. The Top H1N1 tips for parents is also useful.

Visit Last Week's Feature:

Daylight Saving Time; Over for Another Year!

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