Last week, Canadian public health officials announced the arrival of yet another potentially deadly virus on our soil. This time, the culprit was a form of influenza -- avian influenza to be exact -- known as H7N9. This marked the second time in a year a deadly influenza virus had traveled from the Far East to Canada.
It's that time of year again: flu season. Once again, the influenza virus has showed up in Canada threatening up to 20 per cent of the population. For the vaccine to be effective, it has to perfectly mimic the viruses in nature. This is actually harder than one might think as influenza is the master of evolutionary disguise.
Studies to unveil the marvels of our daily hibernation -- and the deleterious effects of deprivation -- will continue and many more discoveries will be made. In the meantime, as the cold and flu season continues to spread in Canada, we should take heed from the research suggesting slumber is critical to health.
Whatever the reasons for this epidemic, there are a few signs of hope. Like the common cold and flu, infection is entirely preventable by washing the hands with soap and water as well as regularly disinfecting surfaces. Should an infection occur, there is still only a small chance it could get worse;
Finally we have Wylde's first suggestion, the one that made me believe it is just sitting in his kitchen making this up out of thin air. There is absolutely no evidence adding petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose will increase your infection barrier and prevent infection. Your nose is much larger than just the nostril you can stick the swab into, so there will be plenty of area left to harbour virus.
Many parents waver on getting the flu shot for their children. They fear their children's bodies are already overloaded with vaccines and they don't want to add more if they don't have to. They also say, as with the chicken pox vaccine that was optional in Ontario until just recently, 'it's just the flu.' They are wrong.
Influenza can be a weapon of mass destruction. The latest candidate worth worrying about is H7N9. It jumped from birds to humans earlier this year. Of the 137 people known to have been infected, 45 died. There's no evidence that H7N9 spreads among humans. On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise any of the experts if H7N9 learns how to jump from person to person and mutates into a fast-moving mass murderer.
Anyone who has suffered from pneumonia -- or witnessed a loved one battle with the illness -- knows how scary the episode can be. The lungs fill with fluid, breathing becomes difficult and at times impossible, requiring hospitalization, and without proper treatment, the consequences can be dire. Like many illnesses, this too can be traced back to a germ.