Friday, August 28, 2009

Swine flu and precautions

Ahhh! run for the hills! don't let anyone get too close! Keep away! Am I describing fear of The Happening* or viral epidemics?

Well, viruses today. There may not be enough of the vaccine when it does reach Korea to help us much. What vaccine there is, needs to go to... who, exactly? It's a tough question. My son is among those most at risk of death from the virus, but I am more at risk of catching it (I am a foreigner a teacher who comes into close contact with hundreds of students a week and, well, more below about those students) and bringing it to him.

So, those at greatest risk from the disease or at greatest risk of catching the disease; the victims or the carriers?

I don't particularly want the vaccine (Though I feel it and just about all other vaccines are useful and safe) and feel I can protect myself through various preventive measures. Earlier, I blogged about places that weren't crowded in Korea and a friend with a great sense of humour suggested that washbasins in public bathrooms weren't crowded in Korea. Here is something that we should work on. The advantage of a clean hands sort of campaign is that it is effective against more than the most recent headline-grabbing disease.

I don't think the face masks are necessary but that might be a western sort of prejudice against them. Still, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough is a smart, as well as polite idea and one that I have discussed with many classes of students who cough (accidentally?) on me.

Kim Hannula, at All my faults are stress related, a geology blog that often has good teaching content, discusses swine flu, whooping cough and vaccines. She reminded me of the crazy-ass anti-vaxers and finished with:
odds are that swine flu will start to spread rapidly through the community as soon as the students get back to campus on Monday. But if we haven't all come down with it before October, my kid and I will get vaccinated. (And I'm going to get re-vaccinated for whooping cough, too.) Because it's not just about the two of us. It's about the herd.

Brian in Jeollanam-do is, as always, on the case with a roundup. In a comment he made to his own post, he said:
It doesn't do any good to sanitize your hands when everybody projectile sneezes or coughs without covering their mouths. "disease terrorists," I think commenter nb once wrote. Coughing on people is my second biggest pet-peeve here, behind noisy eating.

kimchi-icecream brought up a good point elsewhere. They talk about sanitizing the classrooms every day, but let's not forget cleaning is often left up to the students. The same students who don't use cleaning solution, who don't use hot water, who mop the classroom floors with mops that are stored in the bathroom, and who don't wash their hands. Not only do they seem woefully ignorant about cleaning and sanitation, but if you note the half-assed way in which the classrooms are cleaned now, I don't think you'd put much faith in them being sanitary in the future.

Kimchi Ice cream discusses concerns that too many healthy people with visit the hospital:
In Korea I've often been told I 'should go to the hospital' (see here for a post about this cultural difference) for things I'd never go to the hospital for back home in Canada . . . and I think that this cultural habit may put too much stress on the medical system in Korea.

"Over 250 outpatients visited the Geoje hospital to get tested for the new influenza on Tuesday this week alone, 40 percent more than a usual day, according to the hospital.

This is a reasonable concern as, when I am sick with a minor cold, people will ask me if I've visited the hospital. Seems a little strange as pharmacies can treat the symptoms and doctors can't give me a cure for what is, after all, only a irritation. I remember some time ago, a children's clinic had a good play area and my wife suggested we take the little guy there on hot days to enjoy the air conditioning. I pointed out that sick people tend to go there.

*And I am, if not afraid, then horrified by this movie.

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