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What's in the news: Oct. 16 -- The H1N1 flu's second wave is here

This month marks the beginning of what appears to be the anticipated "second wave" of the H1N1 flu pandemic in Canada, with clusters of cases appearing once again. [Toronto Star]

As doctors anxiously await the arrival of the vaccine, health officials are busy trying to simultaneously push back against rumours that the vaccine might be dangerous or useless and (so far unsuccessfully, it seems) convince people to wash their hands and stop coughing on one another.

Meanwhile, researchers around the world are still learning more about the virus and the disease it causes.

American government researchers found that people killed by the H1N1 flu have often had bacterial coinfections in their lungs, including with the bacterium pneumococcus. That means the pneumococcal vaccine is an important element in the effort to keep patients safe this flu season, the researchers said. [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report] [MedPage Today]

Early use of the H1N1 vaccine in China by the World Health Organization showed some very minor side effects, like headaches and muscle cramps. [Associated Press]

Canada granted drug and vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline immunity in potential H1N1 vaccine lawsuits. "We're not obviously anticipating problems with it, but indemnification for a vaccine is important if someone does malpractice, basically injects someone the wrong way or causes harm because of their practice," Dr David Butler-Jones, the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, told reporters. [Toronto Star]

British Columbia came to an agreement with its doctors to pay $14.74 for fielding H1N1-related phone calls. BC physicians should use the billing code PG13705 on their claims. Another new billing code, PG13700, will pay family physicians $31.15 for office visits to deal with the H1N1 flu. Both new fees will cease to be available when the Provincial Health Officer decides they are no longer necessary. [BC Medical Services Plan information on the new H1N1 flu codes for physicians (PDF)] [CBC News]

Contrary to the rumoured results of Canadian research that circulated recently, a new Mexican study suggests the seasonal flu shot might actually aid H1N1 flu immunity rather than encourage it. [British Medical Journal] [Globe and Mail]

It turns out that a Manitoba reserve -- and not the federal government -- was responsible for requesting the large shipment of body bags that was responsible for a major controversy and much mudslinging at Health Canada. [National Post] [Globe and Mail]

Several Winnipeg physicians recommended that doctors should make sure they have enough sedatives and antimicrobials on hand to treat H1N1-flu patients in the ICU. [CMAJ]

Using electronic text messages displayed in public restrooms, British researchers discovered that shame is the most powerful motivator in getting people to wash their hands, more so than reason or disgust. The lesson may be transferable. "A similar method of unobtrusive observation should also work for other kinds of behaviors important to public health, such as smoking cessation and alcohol moderation campaigns." [American Journal of Public Health] [BBC News]

A Prince Edward Island physician surmised that an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus in the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room would wreak havoc on the team's ability to win hockey games. "Well," Dr Richard Schabas, the former chief medical officer of Ontario, told the National Post, "at least they are going to have an excuse this time." [National Post]

Image: Shutterstock

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  1. Purley Quirt (aka Sharon )17 October, 2009 10:52 AM

    This is a "telling" cluster of information. It could be entitled:

    Society under stress. Time to pull out the "guilt and shame" tools to effect compliance!

    This is the best demonstration of what a "harm reduction" viewpoint births.

    Let us not cloud the issue by even considering that we would want to try NOT to harm someone else..... or ... "actually "help them ( paid or not)

    Count all the people you know who have spent a lifetime getting away from being " controlled by disapproval" ( neurotic guilt) while still depending on "governance working through sanctions" to keep their sanity.

    To "sanction" adequate handwashing would have birthed an idea to simply placed an infrared light device to scan your hands to see if they were clean ( versus the LED drama queen thing.) Make it part of the mechanism that triggers the paper towel dispenser....not a mechanism to humiliate the person.

    And the "body bag" kefuffle "... someone messed up an order form .... bring down the government!

    So what is the next step in a "harm reduction" perspective ?

    Herding people into places that keep others "safe" FROM them.. not FOR them?

    +We saw this in New Orleans after the flooding when people were herded into a stadium ( you know the rest of that story)

    +We saw this in the long lasting refugee camps in Sudan.

    +We saw this in Auschwitz.

    How will it manifest itself in Canada....... I wonder........... [ or maybe we already have ( but labelled it under "hygienic" ) ]?

    Do we no longer know there is a difference between " being humbled" and " being humiliated" ?

    [One brings stamina and perseverance and lonsuffering into our persona from "trials ".
    The other brings weakness , hopelessness and despair from "torments".]

    To cap the literary cluster with a "medical officer of health" using " mocking and belittling " in place of a " go team go" message ....really brings the collision into focus.

    What have YOU ever done well and with longlasting commitment under the prodding of guilt and shame ? Remember the "get even" tactics it birthed within you?


    Fearing "loss of control" leads to "overcontrol" and births the belief that the issue is " control".....whereas the real issue is "fear".

    If this belief that "control" versus "educate and govern" is the cure.... we will die to our humanity.... and we will kill ourselves .. and others .... at random..

    Ooops... did I say "will"? ........change that to "do".

  2. sharon29 October, 2009 11:22 PM