If you have your health, nothing else really matters
Perspective is very important at this particular time in our evolution when everyone is either being offended or offending someone, or simply taking offence at the slightest inconvenience. We do have many First World troubles, do we not?
Everyone is a real or imagined victim. For example, the other day a customer in a grocery store went berserk. Was the price of milk going through the roof? Had bread become unaffordable? Were the bananas not ripe enough?
No, he was angry because his loyalty points were not being counted, for an entire 24-hour period. This minor annoyance was inflicted on customers during the transition time when the grocery and drug store giant was melding reward cards. By mid-day, cashiers were hoarse as they repeatedly assured puzzled consumers that all would be fine the next day, when they could continue to pile up those points and buy more products and be rewarded for their loyalty.
But the check-out System was slow. And, gasp, there was a lag between card swipes; precious seconds were being wasted before the Transaction Completed message flashed.
As technology has accelerated our lives, machines are gaining more control over us.
Valuable time can be lost when using a voice automated phone reception set-up.
Incredibly, in this day and age, certain machines offer an option from the dark ages: “If you have a rotary dial phone, stay on the line...” Talk about a reference to the ancient past! And then, strangely enough, the computer voice says, “For service, press 1.” Obviously, that is impossible to do with a rotary dial phone, but for a few seconds, the caller was wondering if he did possess an old-fashioned device, if the spinner thingee could somehow be pressed so a real person would be alerted that a Luddite was seeking assistance.
While today’s phones do everything from taking photos to remotely turning up the thermostat, many Ice Storm survivors have retained the quaint, outdated dial gizmos, because many of them still work even when the power goes out.
But everything seems minor when we are not feeling well. If you have your health, you have everything.
This is more than a cliché at this time of year when The Flu is affecting so many people.
“Overall, influenza activity in Canada remains high but there is some indication that activity is starting to slow down,” according to the federal government’s disease tracking report, which, as one would suspect, is chock full of interesting lab data.
“Most indicators remain in the higher range of expected levels for this time of year. From January 14-20, the percentage of laboratory test positive for influenza B continued to increase while the percentage of laboratory test positive for influenza A remained stable. In case you were wondering, the majority of influenza detections continue to be A(H3N2), although 40% of detections were influenza B.
To date most of those who have died from the flu have been 65 years of age and older, but the “bug” can hit anyone.
Get the shot
Regardless of what you may believe, immunization works, according to the experts.
Children vaccinated against influenza are significantly less likely to experience serious complications from the virus that could land them in hospital, new research from Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) has found.
Published in the Nov. 17 issue of PLOS ONE, the study found that young children who were fully vaccinated against influenza saw their risk of hospitalization due to influenza infection drop by 60 per cent overall. Even for children partially vaccinated against influenza (i.e., those who received one dose of influenza vaccine during their first influenza season), risk of hospitalization due to influenza dropped by 39 per cent.
“Influenza can cause serious illness, especially in young children, but there hasn’t been a lot of research that has examined the magnitude of the influenza vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing kids from getting really sick and being hospitalized,” says Dr. Jeff Kwong, a scientist in Applied Immunization Research and Evaluation at PHO and a senior scientist at ICES, who is the senior author of the research paper.
The researchers examined nearly 10,000 Ontario hospital records of children aged six months to under five years where a respiratory specimen was collected and tested for influenza; 12.8 per cent showed labconfirmed influenza. The scientists included four influenza seasons – 2010-11 to 2013-14 – and broke the data down to compare children who were fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated and those who didn’t get the vaccine. They also compared variations by age group and the circulating influenza strains each season.
Overall, fully vaccinated children aged 2 to 4 saw their risk of hospitalization due to influenza drop by 67 per cent while those aged six to 23 months saw their risk drop by 48 per cent. There is more. Researchers have confirmed a link between flu and heart attack. Chances of a heart attack are increased six-fold during the first seven days after detection of laboratory-confirmed influenza infection, according to a new study by researchers at the ICES and PHO.
The technology that has allegedly improved our lives forces us to march to its beat.
“Our findings are important because an association between influenza and acute myocardial infarction reinforces the importance of vaccination,” says Dr. Kwong.
In the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found a significant association between acute respiratory infections, particularly influenza, and acute myocardial infarction.
The risk may be higher for older adults, patients with influenza B infections, and patients experiencing their first heart attack. The researchers also found elevated risk with infection from other respiratory viruses.
“Our findings, combined with previous evidence that influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events and mortality, support international guidelines that advocate for influenza immunization in those at high risk of a heart attack,” says Dr. Kwong.
And, in case you didn’t know, cuddling live chickens can make you sick.
Poultry is versatile, providing eggs, meat and feathers, but it is not a species that one would instinctively hug, unless there are no puppies available.
In a message directed primarily at urban people who raise chickens in backyards, PHO stresses that this practice has its risks.
Salmonella or campylobacter infections are the most commonly reported infections associated with backyard chickens and live poultry. The bacteria can also be found on the eggs of infected chickens and can be transferred onto feathers and the surrounding environment. People who pet or cuddle the chickens or touch contaminated items can accidentally ingest the bacteria, causing them to get sick. Live chickens can also carry infectious bacteria, such as E. coli.
So, regardless of where you live, never kiss or snuggle with live poultry, no matter how cute the hen may be.
And, be careful where and how you tread. These are dangerous times for all of us who must venture out into our ice-covered world.
It’s no picnic out there trying to navigate slippery driveways, sidewalks and parking lots. Now consider the extra challenges faced by the elderly and the handicapped.
This is a good time to get out of the fast lane. Slow down. If you fall down and break a hip, you’ll have yourself a real problem.