Thursday, November 12, 2009

No flu, flu and Bird Flu/ no jets today

Editted before posting: The links are good. I had to search for sentences in the article, and google gave me full URLs for linking purposes.

I am using my old computer at work. I seem unable to see the full links for newspaper articles. The URLs I am using here for linking are only to the newspaper main page. I'm sorry but you'll have to hunt through to find the articles I am describing. I will edit the post this evening to include links.
From the Dong-a, I learned there is no swine flu in North Korea:

North Korea officially refers to swine flu as new influenza, but many in the North call it swine flu because of international media.

The communist country said yesterday that it has no cases of the flu so far, adding it has no reason to hide any flu outbreaks.

Pak Myong Su, in charge of infectious disease control at the North’s Health Ministry, told the Japan-based daily Chosun Shinbo Oct. 14, “A weakened health infrastructure doesn’t lead to the outbreak of the new flu. If so, this will not undermine our image.”

I recall the communist countries of Europe denying that AIDS existed in their pure and more-wholesome countries. They certainly feared that news of such diseases would undermine their image. Of course, it would be challenging to undermine my image of North Korea.
I was interested to read, though, that it was known by the public as swine flu because of 'international media'. I guess international bad news is transmitted there.

Elsewhere in the article, I learned that there is a new flu from China that medicines don't work on and that North Korean doctors don't have the ability (testing materials or knowledge, I don't know) to recognize the swine flu. But there is no swine flu in North Korea. And it there were, it wouldn't reflect badly on them.

There is swine flu in South Korea but today is the University Entrance Exam and there is no second chance to take it. You take it today or you wait a year.

From the Joongang:
High school seniors nationwide had their temperatures checked at schools where they gathered for last-minute preparations yesterday, and re-takers underwent the checkup process at regional education offices. Some 677,000 people, up 18 percent from last year, will be taking the state test, which will decide their college admission next spring.

Under the Education Ministry guidelines, there will be two separate rooms at each school acting as a CSAT venue for students who are confirmed with and suspected of having the flu.

Each room can house between 15 and 28 students. Some 14,000 teachers nationwide who have been selected as supervisors of the flu rooms have been vaccinated. Anyone showing flu symptoms during the test will be relocated to the separate rooms.
Wow! "Yes, we know you have swine flu and, hysterical exaggerations aside, it can kill you. You can take the test in that room, over there. Feel a little dizzy? Just hang onto the sides of the desk a moment. We'll give you until six PM to finish the exam. You can see a doctor or take your medicine after that."

Although my sympathies go out to all the Entrance Exam takers today, I particularly feel for the sick ones. Fighting!
I am thrilled though, to be teaching today without the frequent roar of fighter jets training overhead. The whole country changes it's behaviors to allow the students the best conditions to work.

I don't know if the migration patterns of birds are responsible but bird flu virus has been found in South Korea recently. From the Chosun (and a good link!):
The resurgence of bird flu in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province is causing concerns to health authorities as the H1N1 flu scare continues. A low pathogenic bird-flu virus was found in excrement of migratory birds in a reservoir in Chuncheon. Despite the low infectiousness, health authorities claim they cannot rule out danger to humans or mutation and pledged to stay alert.

The worst-case scenario is that patients infected with the H1N1 virus could additionally contract bird flu, leading to a mutation that gives rise to a new supervirus. "But that doesn't necessarily mean that a new form of virus will be formed when the bird flu virus appears amid the spread of H1N1 virus," a health official said. "But if that did actually happen, the situation we've seen so far would be a mere shadow of what lies ahead. That's why we have to take preventive measures."
Viruses can share genetic information so I guess a 'supervirus' could be created. As I recall (Bird Flu is so 2005), bird flu wasn't very contagious between people. You could catch it from a bird but not spread it to other humans. Simply making it infectious among humans would be a big step toward 'supervirus' status.

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