Jul 28, 2009

Flu proof?

My grandma, who was born in 1910, told me how she, her sister and her father all lay sick - so weak they were often unconscious - for two weeks with the Spanish flu in 1918. Grandma's mother didn't get sick at all. Not even so much as a sniffle.

The Norwegian newspapers announced yesterday that they no longer believe the current swine flu (H1N1 influenza A) can be contained. The message is that there's no way to avoid it in this country any more; it's being spread from Norwegian to Norwegian here at home. Keep washing your hands, avoid sneezing or coughing without a hankie and throw the hankie away immediately is still good advice, though. But I wonder: Should I resign myself to this fate, this virus? Or: Should I assume that great-grandma's genes are still alive and kicking in me? She was a tough Irishwoman - real tough.

I'm choosing to believe the latter. And maybe there's also a bit of the luck of the Irish, too.

13 comments:

NicoleB said...

Let's hope we are all on the lucky side.
The first person is reported dead in Hungary, sigh :(
I wonder where this whole thing will go.

alice said...

I guess we're all going to find out. One of my neighbors was exposed to H1N1. He's not sick (yet?), but I suppose it's just a matter of time until we're all exposed in one way or another. So far, I've never had a flu and I'm 47 years old. As far as I know, my 78-year-old father has also dodged that particular bullet his whole life, so maybe there's a genetic immunity. We'll see...

(In Stephen King's _The Stand_ -- one of my favorite books -- just a few percent of the world's people were immune to the superflu that took out everyone else, but in that case, the immunity was random.)

Keera Ann Fox said...

Nicole, any who die or are hospitalized seem to have preexisting conditions that make the flu hit them harder. For other people, they feel sick for only a couple of days.

Alice, Norwegian health authorities are no longer testing for swine flu. They are now saying that if you have flu symptoms then you have swine flu. They also want everyone who feels sick to just stay at home and not try to get to the doctor's office for a sick-leave notice. HA! We fuss over getting sick leave! The downside to socialized medicine, fer sure! ;-)

alice said...

It makes sense to just stay home -- getting to (and being in) the doctor's office is just going to spread the virus further. Is there all that much the docs can do (besides excusing people from work), anyway? Besides letting the disease run its course?

Keera Ann Fox said...

The Norwegian government wants to vaccinate every Norwegian. Some docs say that's overkill (if I may use such a word) since swine flu is milder than a regular flu, so why fuss over getting it in the first place. No conclusion yet. In the meantime, 80% of Norwegians aren't worried at all; it's business as usual, if with better washed hands.

They are expecting it to really hit us in September, which may totally derail this year's national elections.

alice said...

I've been told that the best defense is liberal use of hand sanitizer -- and in related news, I've also heard that since Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol, countries with lots of Muslims are having a harder time containing the virus because some fanatics think the prohibition extends to rubbing it on your skin and won't use the hand sanitizer.

And I didn't know there WAS a vaccine. Huh.

Keera Ann Fox said...

There's a firm in France that says it can make a vaccine, but the latest report is that delivery will be delayed.

Some major companies in Norway, including our national broadcasting company, are installing hand sanitizers. My company hasn't, yet. But if people could get better about washing their hands, it won't be necessary.

I'm sure there is some way to work around the Islamic prohibition regarding alcohol. Time for some imams to get creative. After all, we Christians can make our Bible support anything, even contradictory things. ;-)

alice said...

By my reading the prohibition is against drinking the stuff -- nothing about rubbing it on your hands!

And as for the public dispensing of the stuff, the only place I've noticed making it available is the grocery store (you'd think the pharmacy -- where people go when they're sick, would have some of the stuff!). But I have my own supply -- a big bottle in the car and a smaller one in my purse -- so I can sanitize like crazy whenever the spirit moves me! ;-D

Keera Ann Fox said...

So somebody's taking "no alcohol" to be a general rule? I wonder if vinegar might be an alternative.

Today at work we got the job of laminating a bunch of signs from the health board to post on the inside of the bathroom doors. You know, so the idiots who never wash their hands will see it before they leave the bathroom.

Me, I've read that money can carry the virus, so I'm doing my bit by shopping with only plastic. ;-)

alice said...

Money is one of the filthiest things ever. (And menus -- restaurants wash the tables and silverware and all, but do they ever wash the menus? I don't think so.)

It's impossible to avoid touching all the places where the germs can hide, so a small bottle of hand sanitizer tucked into the purse is my defense.

As to vinegar, that's an interesting idea. Drinking a bit of apple cider vinegar every day might help someone who's already sick, but I don't know if it works as a sanitizer/preventative.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'm just thinking there must be some alternative to alcohol, and thought of vinegar. Its acidity may do the trick of instantly cleaning hands. (Ironic, isn't it, that alcohol was named by the Arabic world.)

I am not yet so paranoid about my world that I feel the need to walk around with hand sanitizer or alcohol-based wet wipes, but maybe that day will come. In which case I also want masks that match my outfit. There's a new world of fashion out there, just waiting to hit the stores! ;-)

alice said...

I wouldn't call it paranoia. The scientists are saying the hand sanitizer is what's most effective, so that's what I'm doing. It's no biggie. I've kept it in my car for years -- a habit I started when it occurred to me that I might have followed a sick person through the phrarmacy check out line. The small purse-sized container was a recent innovation, started last year when Emmie went to a convention and was given some free samples, one of which ended up in my purse. These days, it seems handy. (Heh!)

But speaking of the vaccine... well, speak of the devil... Government begins swine flu vaccine trials!

Keera Ann Fox said...

My "paranoid" comment is born out of an impression that Americans will do things no European would think of because Americans get afraid of the damnedest things - like sitting down on public toilet seats. (Hence the US custom of leaving a wet mess for everybody else. Yuck!) Unless my own immune defense were compromised, it would never occur to me to worry about being around sick people. After all, they're always around. I don't worry during regular flu season, so why should swine flu be any different? It's spreads faster, yes, but isn't as bad as a regular flu.

Our scientists are asking people to please settle down and knock it off with the anti-bacterial soap. Regular soap will do. Anti-bacterial soap is not the same as hand sanitizer, but the latter is rather new to Norway (and the former's sales show that Norwegians have a nice touch of paranoia, themselves). I've yet to see hand sanitizer dispensers here, but it looks like they're coming.