I got a flu shot 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — Today, while I was working on the computer in the office, my deans asked me if I would like to get a flu shot. That’s the way they phrased it, anyway. The real meaning, however, was, “We really expect you to get a flu shot. Today. With the rest of the staff.” But such directness is very un-Chinese. As it was phrased, it took a while for the true meaning of the “request” — or “mandatory option,” as my high school chorus teacher put it — to sink into my thick skull. They caught me while I was in the middle of entering students’ names into the Epals.com website, a task which Epals does not make especially easy by limiting you to 25 names at a time. Distracted as I was, and still without a morning cup of Joe, I stalled and said I would think about it. My British cohort, David, was also likewise pecking away at another computer. He basically said, no. If it wasn’t a requirement, he would rather not. “I try to avoid taking medicines,” he added. Soon after, David left to teach his classes, leaving me alone with two deans, the staff ...

Flu flies the friendly skies

JISHOU, HUNAN — It should not come as a big surprise that the swine flu (H1N1 influenza virus) has spread very quickly. A lot of people fly internationally now. But epidemiologists in Toronto have found convincing correlation between air travel from Mexico during the early stages of the H1N1 outbreak and the number of reported infections in the destination cities. Their findings are summarized in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine First, here’s their map showing the destinations of air travelers from Mexico during March and April 2008. [Click on the image to see it full-size.] The vast majority of those destinations were in the USA and Canada. The researchers tabulated the number of reported cases of H1N1 infections. The USA and Canada lead the list. China has seen relatively few H1N1 cases, since air travel between China and Mexico is not too common, but reported cases have either involved travelers who had been to Mexico and traveled through the USA, or travelers coming directly from the USA. By comparison, soldiers returning from World War I apparently spread the so-called Spanish flu around the world, leading to a major pandemic in 1918. In response to the pandemic, ...
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