Check out the discussion in the chat box to the far right of this screen capture from my new Apple iPod this morning. I tell you this thing is like crack!
Oops! The picture is a bit too small... here's the conversation:
So far, Manitoba has been (relatively) lucky compared to its neighbouring provinces, with only 11 confirmed cases of H1N1, more popularly known as swine flu. Looks like our luck has run out, though, with a sudden increase in cases from 11 to 38. From this morning's Winipeg Free Press, all highlighting is my own:
Swine flu surge hits reserve: Extra doctors, drugs sent to help H1N1 patients in St. Theresa Point
By: Jen Skerritt, Winnipeg Free Press, June 4th, 2009.
A spike in the number of Manitobans sick with H1N1 influenza has left Winnipeg hospitals facing a rush for intensive-care beds while extra doctors and drugs are being rushed to an isolated First Nation that seems particularly hard hit.
Dr. Elise Weiss, Manitoba's acting chief medical officer, confirmed Wednesday 27 new cases of H1N1 influenza have been reported across the province -- including three in the northern health region that includes St. Theresa Point First Nation.
Another 19 new cases were reported in Winnipeg, including at least one person hospitalized for severe flu symptoms.
To date, a total of 38 cases of H1N1, also known as swine flu, have been reported in Manitoba.
St. Theresa Point Chief David McDougall said 20 residents have recently been flown to Winnipeg hospitals suffering with flu symptoms, including 12 people who were medevaced in the last week.
Ten children have been hospitalized, along with two pregnant women in critical condition at St. Boniface General Hospital. One woman lost her baby as a result of the illness.
It's still unknown whether everyone who has fallen ill with a respiratory virus in the remote fly-in community is infected with swine flu, and health officials say there are still many tests that must be completed at Manitoba laboratories.
Meanwhile, McDougall said residents continue to wear masks and avoid public gatherings to prevent the spread of the disease. The province has sent three additional physicians and antiviral drugs from their pandemic stockpile to St. Theresa Point, located about 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg. At least six federal health officials arrived in the community on Wednesday to address the situation, which McDougall said included a presentation about influenza on the reserve's local TV station.
"We are taking these precautions," McDougall said. "We're doing the best we can."
The surge in new cases has put a strain on Winnipeg emergency rooms and intensive-care units, which have seen a big influx of patients reporting respiratory problems in the last week.
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority chief nursing officer Jan Currie said visits to city emergency rooms jumped to 1,000 visits a day this week -- up from the usual 800. She said hundreds of Winnipeggers are reporting flu-like symptoms at a time of year when influenza has usually fizzled out.
Staff have been asked to work overtime to handle the extra cases and every hospital is trying to move patients to personal-care homes to free up beds. Currie said the WRHA has purchased more ventilators and plans to put suspected H1N1 patients in emergency-room beds if they run out of intensive-care beds.
"Some of the staff are working overtime to staff the beds," Currie said. "We're very full and we want to be able to predict if we need more (beds) to manage it."
While public health officials have been bracing for additional cases since swine flu incited a worldwide pandemic scare in April, the latest cases have some communities worried they aren't ready for an outbreak.
Red Sucker Lake Chief Larry Knott is watching the outbreak of respiratory illness in St. Theresa Point closely, and said he worries his community won't be able to heed much of the preventative advice from public health practitioners. Handwashing is key to preventing the spread of influenza, but Knott said many residents don't have running water and must get fresh water in a pail from the lake.
First Nations leaders have warned crowded homes and impoverished conditions leave reserves inadequately equipped to deal with a widespread disease outbreak.
Red Sucker Lake is about 100 kilometres north of St. Theresa Point.
"If it hits us, I'm pretty sure it'll hit us pretty hard," Knott said.
In other words, even this small number of H1N1 cases, added to an existing workload, has "put a strain" on our healthcare system. Not a very good sign, especially as the number of swine flu cases is likely to rise as has been the case in other provinces.
And, reading between the lines, I get the sense that the outbreak in St. Theresa Point is a little more severe, perhaps? The two pregnant women in critical care is especially worrisome; are pregnant women more at risk from this virus than other groups?
Questions, questions. Hopefully soon we'll have answers.
If you're coming here because of my posting on the Library 2.0 discussion group for Week 2, welcome. If I had to categorize this blog, the words I would use are "eclectic", "personal", and "bizarre" ;-)
So feel free to wander around, you might want to start by scrolling down a bit and choosing a subject category from the Categories listed alphabetically in the right-hand column. The original layout of this blog was modelled on the nine virtues and the nine passions of the Ennegram (think "seven deadly sins" plus their flip side and you'd be pretty close).
(sung to the tune of Kung Fu Fighting)
Everybody was Swine-Flu Fighting (hee-YA!)
A vi-rus were fast as lightning (hee-YA!)
In fact it was a little bit frightening
But they fought back that flu thing...
OK, so I won't be the next Weird Al Yankovic.
It's hard to believe that it has been only one week -- seven days -- since the news about the swine flu outbreak in Mexico grabbed my attention. I don't even remember now how I first learned about it, I think it was supper-hour news on TV.
It didn't take long to jump right back into my obsessive following of any and all news related to swine flu, using all of my old flubie resources (a "flubie" is a term used by us obsessive potential flu pandemic trackers to refer to ourselves, another term is "prepper", as in preparing for self-quarantine in case of a severe flu wave). Most of the old blogs and news sites and discussion forums from my bird flu panic days were stil up and operating, swifting changing topic to swine flu.
In some ways, being so plugged in is not healthy. We flubies tend to go overboard with the worst-case scenario coverage and how to prepare for it (3 months of pantry supplies to get you through a 12-week wave of pandemic influenza! Drop everything and go shopping for rice and beans!!). We also tend to alarm ourselves with stories posted from various new sources of varying quality and accuracy. (Does anyone know how to translate from Bahasa Indonesian into English?!?? This article talks about 1,000 ill... or is that 100? I think this word translates as "pandemic"!!) Sometimes I swear we et ourselves worked into such a fever pitch that we expect the imminent extinction of the human race.
But the opposite tack is just as unhealthy. Not giving some thought as to how YOU would get through a flu pandemic is just as foolhardy as going overboard on the subject. Although it appears more and more likely that this H1N1 flu virus currently making the rounds is a mild version of the disease that does not spread very quickly among people, it must be said that the influenza virus can mutate regulary. Each mutation could make the virus more or less transmissable, or make it more or less deadly. My personal fear is that when this strain of H1N1 swine flu reaches Southeast Asia, it will mix with isolated cases of the much deadlier H5N1 bird flu virus and the resulting offspring will wreak havoc.
Deeep breath. Deeeeep breath. Calm.
You see? SOmetimes I do wonder if ignorance is bliss on this subject. Of course it's even worse now with the advent of Twitter. I've found myself fervently following the #h1n1, #swineflu, and #pandemic Twitter tags, along with the latest solemn pronouncements from the CDC and WHO, and by mid-afternoon I'm a basket case again.
So I push it away and try to focus on my work, only to find myself coming back for another peek. (Oooh...a probable case in Minnesota? Where is that on Google Maps? How close is it to me?)
Well, uhmmm, okay, kinda sorta. It's not my work, but I'm in the picture!
I'm among the very earliest users of Flickr, back when it was just a tiny Vancouver startup. I joined in February 2004.
I was amused to find this picture illustrating an article in a computer science journal article on the analysis of online social networks. The caption says: A detail from a painting of a Flickr network, consisting only of people with at least 50 mutual contacts, which reveals four distinct clusters. I'm even in this picture! I'm the one outlined in the little red square, where Mickey's ear (on the left side of the picture) attaches to his head ;-D
Citation: Howard, B. 2008. Analyzing online social networks. Communications of the ACM Vol. 51, No. 11 (Nov. 2008), pp14-16. DOI= doi.acm.org/10.1145/1400214.1400220
I had said, "It's the new black", but voice-to-text transcription is not always flawless. It took me half an hour fiddling with TypePad and Jott to get it working, but hooray! It works! I taught my iPhone how to record a blogpost, convert it from voice to text, and publish it!
This just blows my mind. God, I swear you will have to pry this phone from my cold dead hands.