Swine Flu: It Grows

April 30, 2009 at 08:46 Leave a comment

Looks like it’s getting worse. I just heard the first US death was that of a 23-month-old Texan [actually Mexican; just went to Texas for medical treatment] child. Cases have been confirmed in at least five countries, and there are suspected cases as near as Indonesia and Hong Kong.

It’s terribly easy for things like viruses to spread, isn’t it? A cough, a sneeze, a drop, a breath. Plus, this particular virus appears to be infectious even before symptoms begin, so the transmitter will not know that they should have been quarantined.

Speaking of symptoms, besides fever and chills, headache and muscle pain, sore throat, cough and malaise, it looks like swine flu causes more vomiting and diarrhea than the generic flu.

Whether it’s fascinating or frightening, science has not yet learnt to beat the common influenza virus. Over the decades, or maybe millenia, it just keeps evolving to outstrip natural immunity and developed vaccines. This virus learns and changes. That’s why it’s managed to kill so many people over time. Today’s strain, H1N1, looks to be a descendant of the Spanish flu that caused a pandemic ninety years ago, but it has become a cocktail of human, pig and bird origins. 

Right now, Singapore is on DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) Alert Yellow. It means that we are acting as if the virus has not ‘learnt’ efficient means of human-to-human transmission (yet), and so the main aim is separation of suspected cases. In terms of action, it translates to:

  • Home quarantine for close contacts of cases
  • Restricted visiting to hospitals and clinics
  • Restricted movement of patients and staff between hospitals, except for emergencies
  • Healthcare workers and arriving travellers to monitor their temperatures

Full personal protective equipment (PPE) has also been instituted in local hospitals.

Some hospitals have decided to be extra-cautious, and have upped their internal alerts to orange. They will assume that human-to-human transmission of the illness will occur upon close contact. That means strict containment of suspected cases – no visitors, no inter-hospital movement and possibly antiviral prophylaxis.

However, as WHO has just decreed pandemic alert phase 5, which indicates significant human-to-human transmission, my guess is that the nationwide alert will push to orange, probably by today, and red will happen soon after.

Taking off the doctor hat for a moment, I think that the current death toll from swine flu is not high. One probably has a higher chance of dying today from a car collision or a violent mugging, than from swine flu. Still, the situation is going to get worse before it gets better. It’s going to be important to keep our hands clean, take our vitamins, and get enough food and rest.

Over and above that, it’s a good time to remember our blessings and the people we love. It’s always a good time for that, but we’re such experts at forgetting the truly essential things in life. Life is so precious because death is always a certainty; the whens and hows are just details. In light of that, I’m going to make sure I have a good day today.

Update: Yup, we are now at Alert Orange. Thankfully, no confirmed cases.

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Entry filed under: Dear Diary. Tags: , , .

Swine Flu & Singapore Doctors Swine Flu Update: Name Change

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Welcome to my blog!


My blog-name is Katie but I will not respond if you call me that in real life because it's not my real name. Yes, I do practise virtual-world paranoia. No, I do not enjoy stalkers. But I do enjoy writing and having folks reading said writing, so welcome to my world. It's nice to meet you.

Playing in my head over and over again argh

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song (Jim Croce)

Book(s) of the moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)

Books read in 2010 and 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - 'cos the movie's coming out!
Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean Koontz) - ah, bugger, it's part of a series! Now I hafta find all the books...
Dismantled (Jennifer McMahon) - oh, good one
Tigerlily's Orchids (Ruth Rendell)
Shutter Island (Dennis LeHane) - reminds me too much of work
Holy Fools (Joanne Harris) - it's official: I prefer her scary books
A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Unauthorized Autobiography; The Beatrice Letters (Lemony Snicket)
The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
The main books - 11 so far - of the Southern Vampire series; the Aurora Teagarden series except for A Fool & His Honey - that makes it 7; Sweet & Deadly (Charlaine Harris)
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)
Room: A Novel (Emma Donaghue)
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
The Bachman Books (Stephen King)
Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
The Sandman, Vol 1 (Neil Gaiman)
The Burden (Agatha Christie) - her crime novels are waaay better
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

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Disclaimers: 1) I cannot help but bitch about work sometimes, but everything here comes under the realm of personal remarks, and nothing here is said in my professional capacity. Nor does anything here reflect the opinion of the institutions that employ me. This is just me shooting off. 2) Most identities have been anonymized, particularly those of folks I know on a personal basis. Same goes for my workplaces. However, commercial and public places and figures remain named. Otherwise some things just wouldn't make sense. 3) Links and sources have been provided where appropriate and possible. They are not meant to challenge anyone's ownership. If this causes any discomfort or offence, please let me know.

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