H1N1 N U
Like, “and you”

In the past few months, people have gone from eagerly consuming bacon, ham, and other pork products to avoiding the meats like the plague

This is a bit of a jarring intro. Give it a headline that provides context as “pork demand plummeting” is not going to grab attention

. The reason is not vegetarianism becoming the hottest new trend, but the new strain of flu H1N1, commonly nicknamed Swine Flu. The countless pamphlets and public health announcements have evoked both caution and paranoia, and makes me wonder whether the situation really is grave, or if the hype has been exaggerated.
Although there have been obvious Swine Flu related deaths, the toll for any flus and diseases mount as we near the winter months. It is questionable as to whether the current high rate of transmission is due to the virus being highly contagious or if it is simply a result of our close-quartered, public transit-loving 21st century lifestyle. A year ago, the Avian flu was all the rage and before that it was SARS. With the uproar dying out, it was almost as if the world needed some other disease to come take its place in creating panic.

Impacts of the flu that hit closer to home can be found by taking a look at our very own Capilano University and the subtle changes it has implemented as of last spring. Notices about hand washing, which really ought to be redundant at this point, have been posted throughout the campus. If you’ve spent any time in a bathroom, near the cafeteria, or in the weight room behind the Sportsplex, you may have noticed hand sanitizer dispensers have been mounted at those locations.

Crawford Kilian is

This comes out of nowhere. Introduce her in a new paragraph.

ius a retired Capilano University professor who has continued writing for The Tyee and blogging about flus since 2005. The hand sanitizers, he says, “don't even work well if your hands are dirty.” His most recent article informs us of BC’s Provincial Pandemic Plan, which predicts that in BC alone, three of its four million residents could become infected and up to 6,800 could die
Weird wording, makes it sound like 6,800 people will be infected WITH death.

. Statistics that understandably evoke concern- if they are accurate. Kilian himself sees the numbers as “an extreme prediction” and says that things are “unlikely to turn out that way.”
The changes Capilano has undergone make it seem prepared to take action in preventing the spread of H1N1 around campus. Information presented on the Capilano University website

Which website? Don’t write the URL.

states some of the schools proactive measures such as increased disinfectant, distribution of Purell hand sanitizer samples to students, and even a special H1N1 committee that is looking into how the flu will impact Cap. The website also informs readers that a brochure entitled Pandemic Influenza: Prepare for Action has been distributed to all employees. Yet whether Capilano University is genuinely concerned about H1N1 or merely following the publics hype is in question. I, for one, have yet to be given a Purell sample, and Capilano professor Dr. Michael Walsh admits that he “[has] not seen that particular brochure yet.”
Just as the symptoms of H1N1 are similar to the seasonal flu, so are the precautionary actions. It shouldn’t take a pandemic to remind the public to wash hands regularly and not cough and sneeze all over one another on the bus. HealthLinkBC is offering a twenty-four hour helpline at 8-1-1 where you can speak to a nurse about symptoms and concerns. Reassuring, although you won’t receive information specific to swine flu and its preventative measures. What you will get is a general lesson on how to cough, sneeze, and avoid any possible ways of contaminating yourself – nothing extraordinarily different to what we’re told every year at this time.

Although we will be battling against our newfound swine-originating enemy this winter, attempted precautions at Capilano actually appear to lessen the seriousness of the situation. So use your energy to fight off any cold and flu strains, and not fall prey to the belief that you’re next when it comes to contracting H1N1.

// Alexa Ray

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com