Sunday, 3 November 2013

Ones Flu over the Chickens Nest, and a Vision in Blue


As last week drew to a close, I felt increasingly unwell. My grandson Jack had been suffering with a cold all week, and I guess I had caught it from him. While he is getting better, I found myself spending the first 48 hours of my holiday with a pounding headache, dry persistent cough, and sucking pastilles for a raging sore throat, and generally feeling very miserable. But thankfully, I am sure it’s just a cold (a bad one mind you) and not flu.

The national flu vaccination campaign is in full flood, with ever increasing numbers taking this up. All children between the ages of 2 years and 16 years old should receive it every year. The injected flu vaccine contains inactivated strains of flu virus and doesn't cause flu. The flu vaccine is often grown in fertilised hens eggs, although egg free vaccines are available for those with an egg allergy.

Scariest hen and flu story this week was definitely that published in the Lancet regarding poultry markets in China. The story showed that these live poultry markets created a huge flu reservoir  and that following closure of some 800 such markets across Shanghai, Huzhou, Hangzhour and Najing, the number of new H7N9 bird flu cases dropped by 97%. There have been 137 cases of H7N9 bird flu deaths according to the WHO, and most of which were in the months immediately after the virus was found to be moving away from infecting animals to infecting people. 

My chickens live in the back garden. They have never been to China, and I have never heard them as much as have a sneeze. Chickens are good for the garden, and the older one becomes, gardens, so it seems are good for us.  A Swedish study published  in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last week showed that for people over the age of 60 fixing the car, doing home repairs, cutting the lawn, blackberry  picking or going hunting could reduce the risk of a heart attack or a stroke by 27% and death from any cause by 30%. 

I do like gardening and like seeing my hens pottering about. And in a week where I joined other colleagues to test out our University Vision I was struck by the near Wittgenstein like thought (‘roughly speaking; objects are colourless’ Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) contained in a Tweet sent last Friday which posed the question as to how people who are blind pick their socks. Its a serious and fascinating question where it seems technology is coming to the rescue, well at least in part. Technology can tell us it’s a pair of red socks, but how do we know what red means either physically or emotionally? Me, well I know right now my cold is making me feel very blue! And at 05.00, do I take the night nurse or day nurse tablets?