Respiratory illness

Your daily reminder that as it stands, Influenza is far more likely to infect and kill you than 2019-nCoV: the all-singing, all-dancing new virus coming straight out of Wuhan.

Fortunately, there’s something you can do about influenza – vaccinate yourself and your kids. If you do it in SA, you’ll pay about R50 and if you have medical insurance, you’ll pay nothing and they’ll give you a million points for doing it.

I lived with, cared for and slept next to a very sick wife with influenza for 10 days last year and remained wholly unscarthed (by the virus, at least). Guess who’d had the vaccine and who hadn’t?
We’re both going to get it this year, and so should you. And your family.

And if anyone tells you not to – they’re no friend of yours. Why on earth would you wish a serious and wholly preventable disease upon anyone, let alone a friend?

So yes, avoid these sort of people and this sort of shit:

Full story here. Sample paragraph here:

One recent post came from the mother of a 4-year-old Colorado boy who died from the flu this week. In it, she consulted group members while noting that she had declined to fill a prescription written by a doctor.
The mother also wrote that the “natural cures” she was treating all four of her children with — including peppermint oil, Vitamin C and lavender — were not working and asked the group for more advice. The advice that came in the comments included breastmilk, thyme and elderberry, none of which are medically recommended treatments for the flu.

We’re all (rightly) concerned about the influence of social media and fake news in elections around the world, but there are other (literally life and death) situations where less effort seems to be being made to halt the tide of disinformation reaching (clearly) vulnerable parents.

This needs to be addressed, and quickly.

UPDATE: We have a problem.

The elephants… are inconsolable

Sad Death of an Elephant Trainer in Sheffield

It happens. Elephant trainers are every bit as mortal as the next guy, and when the Grim Reaper comes calling, even their big, thick-skinned, flappy-eared grey friends can’t do anything about it.

See here:

And I quote:

SAD DEATH OF AN ELEPHANT TRAINER IN SHEFFIELD

In the early hours of this morning the accident to Fred Hartley, who was in the employ of Messrs. Sanger as elephant trainer, terminated fatally. Such a sad ending to what was considered only a slight mishap was not expected until within the last day or two. It appears that during an afternoon performance on the 19th inst. the deceased, who was a promising young fellow of 26, and a great favourite with the visitors at Messrs. Sangers’ establishment in Pinstone street, handed to one of the elephants a horse-pistal [sic] for use in a trick. The weapon went off suddenly, and the wadding lodged in the palm of Hartley’s hand. The wound though painful was not regarded as serious, and the injured man was medically attended at his home for a few days. On Sunday, however, alarming symptoms began to manifest themselves and his removal the the hospital was advised, where after lingering in dreadful agony, he died as stated. Lockjaw is returned as the cause of death. The deceased has been in the service of Messrs. Sanger ever since he was a child and his loss to them is felt very keenly. The elephants, with whom he could do anything, are inconsolable, and it will be a matter of no little difficulty to fill his place in their affections. The funeral will take place at the General Cemetery on Sunday.

Lockjaw – or tetanus – is caused by Clostridium tetani. A simple vaccination or dose of metronidazole would have saved this “promising young fellow”. But this snippet from the Sheffield Telegraph (and shamelessly borrowed off Facebook) is likely from the 1870s, and they hadn’t quite got their heads around the microbiology of it all back then. Still, it’s a good reminder of where we’re headed with increasing antibiotic resistance and anti-vaxx idiots.

Because yes, even a mild injury to your hand, caused by an elephant shooting you with a horse-pistal [sic] could be fatal again soon.

It’s something we all need to be cautious of.

You want pure nature? OK, die young.

I spotted a nice little rant from Jeffrey Kluger on Time.com on anti-vaxxers.

I hope that writing it was some sort of cathartic experience for Jeffrey, as while it carefully explains all the reasons that anti-vaxxers are foolish, short-sighted and downright wrong, it will have about as much effect as bringing a banana to a gunfight. But I recognise that sometimes you just need to get these things out of your system before the frustration makes your brain go totes cray cray and you start using sloppy internet slang.

Parents who oppose vaccines are not only misinformed, they’re spoiled, having grown up in a world that stands behind the berms built by the scientists and vaccine developers who came before them. If you’ve never seen measles — or polio or whooping cough or mumps — you have the luxury of believing they don’t exist.

Forget the pretty flowers and the Instagrammable sunsets. There’s another side to Nature: viruses, evil bacteria, disease, sickness. Yep, sadly, it turns out that Nature is actually a bit of a bitch. As Jeffrey points out, science (or “messing with nature”) allows us to live longer, it means that we don’t die in childhood, it means that simple infections don’t kill us anymore (for the moment, anyway).
Because those were all things that happened a lot before science happened (see here).
Now, I think that those are good things. Positive things. Fine reasons to embrace and celebrate the progress we have made. Working in science, it’s disappointing when others don’t feel that way, but it’s tragic when their irresponsible decisions impact on the defenceless individuals in our society.

I’m not going to carry on. My rant would have about as much effect as Jeffrey’s and rather than raising my blood pressure by thinking about the idiots, I’d rather be doing my (little) bit to stop quite so many people dying of TB. That said, do click through and have a read of Jeffrey’s column, because it does make very good sense.