Coming to a School Near You: Swine Flu


This morning I was reading a column in the Sunday Herald by radio talkshow host Kerre Woodham saying that SwineFlu is a load of hogwash. Half an hour ago I was at the checkout at my local Foodtown and overheard a girl saying that she was told not to go to school next week at Westlake College (On Auckland’s North Shore) as there had been a confirmed case of SwineFlu at the school.  She said that initially only year 12 girls were told to stay away, but that she since been told that the whole school is to be closed for a week. The fact that she was working at a checkout at the supermarket suggests that as well as spreading the news, she could also of course be spreading the virus.

I have said all along that, the people who are saying that because bird flu turned out to be a non event, this one will too, are going to get a rude awakening. This thing is spreading quickly, with a rise of 65% in the last 24 hours to 71 confirmed cases, while many more are expected to be confirmed in coming days as the NZ Police College has closed for a week and 41 tourists in the South Island town of Hokitika have also been confirmed.

One question being asked is whether employers should pay their staff if the company closes its doors during a quarantine. The answer appears to be no, other than normal holiday pay conditions. If it turns out to be as serious as is suggested, this could be a major concern. The biggest concern though is people who are sick but go to work anyway, because they can’t financially afford to miss work.

Perhaps the answer is obvious, but what should you do if one of your family members with whom  you live is ill and could have Swine Flu?Does the whole family have to stay home, or do they only stay home if the person is confirmed to have the virus, which takes 72 hours after the swab.

It’s Official Swine Flu is a Pandemic


In the last hour or so, WHO has announced that we now have a Pandemic, the first in 41 years as infections have climbed over 30,000 people. As I said in my previous blog, many people still have their heads in the sand, thinking it won’t happen to them, but pretty much everyone I know is aware of people close to them who either have N1H1, or have been asked to quarantine themselves just in case.

WHO Chief Margaret Chan made the announcement a short while ago saying that “Swine Flu is unstoppable.” She also went on to say that it has progressed so far that it is no longer possible to follow the track of the virus and htat the statistics only reflect the data from countries who have good tracking measures in place.

This takes me back to my prvious blog where I asked if you were prepared. It is now quite likely that you may have to be quarantined and if this is the case, your whole family may find itself in this situation. I meet and shake hands with a lot of people every day, my wife works in a retirement village and my daughter is a school teacher. Between us, the chances of getting exposed become much higher.

Just to put this into perspective, the last time WHO declared a pandemic, the Hong Kong Flu, 41 years ago, around 1 million people died.

Now I’m not trying to say the sky is falling, but I am saying you need to consider what it means to be prepared. If you have a little more food in the cupboards  and don’t need it, cool, have a non swine flu party when its all over. Make sure you wash your hands regularly after contact with other people, you can buy handy little bottles of hand cleaner that doesn’t require water. 

A final reminder for you, who are thinking, I’m young and healthy, it’s the elderly people who get killed with these viruses. Think again, the majority of deaths with Swine Flu have been aged 30-50 years old.

Should we be so quick to dispense Tamiflu?


As the Swine Flu progresses to Level 5 on the 6 point WHO Pandemic scale, in New Zealand they have decided to sell Tamiflu from Pharmacies to anyone that goes in and shows symptoms, without having to see a doctor. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not, because it is likely that the majority of people who buy and use it won’t have the virus.

The biggest concern being expressed about this is that mass use of vaccines can encourage viruses to mutate and evolve into strains which resist vaccines and antibiotics. It seems to me that as it travels around the world it will evolve anyway, but why give it a helping hand. I just hope that there isn’t a rush on it so that people who do need it can’t get it. Tonight’s TV News did say that there was only a small increase in demand for Tamiflu. 

It’s funny watching the news on CNN and other international (read American) TV channels, who seem to almost forget about New Zealand, because early on we were one of the countries that had early exposure in fairly large numbers. Even in the last couple of days, more people have gone into quarantine, now around 500, and we are now in a situation where we actually know people who are in quarantine. It’s no longer 6 points removed.

Mexico is obviously the place that is mostly in the news, and lets hope that their plans for a 5 day national shut down will help contain things until people are no longer contagious.

According to the Google Swine Flu map, the density of infection in the countries where they have confirmed cases, is growing fast. Spain is one of the biggest outside of the US and Mexico for obvious reasons. Switzerland and The Netherlands are the latest countries to get hit.

I was watching the news last night and they were saying that they were lucky that it is spring because viruses don’t spread as much when it is warm, but of course down here in New Zealand it is cooling down and we are heading into the flu season, so it could be potentially worse here. 

Please participate in my poll. Do you know anyone who has been quarantined? It would be really interesting to see how this progresses. The feeling of it won’t happen to me may dissapear as we get to a point where we either know someone or are only 1 place removed. 

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Is the Swine Flu going to be a pandemic?


When I first read posts about this on Twitter, I thought it was a hoax. The first I heard was that a British Airways crew member had been raced off to hospital after arriving from Mexico feeling ill. He was immediately raced to Northwick Park Hospital and quarantined. There have been possible cases identified in 

The reason I thought it might have been a hoax was because of the EndGame story, suggesting that a virus which is spreading through Mexico might have been man made. For many years there have been fears that terrorists would use viruses as a weapon. Most  of the comments about this seem to be from conspiracy theorists and noone appears to have claimed credit for this, so hopefully that is just something being discussed to add a little fear factor. 

Once I followed more links to a Reuters story that said the virus has already killed 68 people in Mexico and that the Swine Virus was now crossing from human to human. While we were relaxed and happy that we had missed the bird flu, it looks like there is a new pandemic threat.

Once again people are rushing out to buy face masks and there have been reports of people hawking flu masks at 25 times the going rate.

I’ll watch with interest to see if this can be contained and whether people in other countries need to be concerned. With international travel these days it would be very easy for a virus like this to spread around the world. For more information on swine flu, check out International SOS.

When I wrote this blog this morning, I thought it would be a long time before there was any risk in New Zealand, but then a group from Rangitoto College, a km from my office returned from Mexico on a school trip and 25 people were quarantined, some of them with flu-like symptoms. And at Narita Airport in Tokyo, they are taking the temperature of people arriving on overseas flights.

I guess the good thing is that after the previous scares and preparedness for bird flu, many countries are better prepared for a pandemic. It appears that patients with this flu are responding well to Tamiflu, the vacine which was made to help with bird flu.

Now we are told that this has been going around since February at least and that cases have been found in 10 states of the US

This might be a good time again to be prepared for a pandemic, to make sure you can survive at home for a few weeks if you have to and be very careful with your hygiene, especially if, like me you are shaking hands or in close contact with many people on a daily basis.

A Disease A Day has lots of valuable information about the virus itself: How does it feel? How is it discovered?How is it treated? What happens after treatment? The bottom line – How do I avoid it? 

While my blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)