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Health & Fitness Contagious

The Flu Pandemic and You

A Canadian Guide

by (author) Vincent Lam & Colin Lee

foreword by Margaret Atwood

Doubleday Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2006
Contagious, Public Health, Disease & Health Issues
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price

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An essential survival guide—both to pandemic influenza, and to the hype surrounding it.

Written by an emergency physician and a public health physician, The Flu Pandemic and You is a timely and forthright guide on how to prepare for an influenza pandemic, and how to understand the broader context in which this health threat exists.

With cool heads and professional expertise, Drs. Lam and Lee carefully explain how readers can assess their level of risk, and set out practical advice on how to contend with a pandemic, addressing such issues as:

• How the flu virus works and what level of threat Canadians really face
• How to help protect yourself and your family from contracting influenza
• How to identify symptoms
• What you need to know about antiviral drugs
• What to do in a worst-case scenario

The Flu Pandemic and You develops a lucid framework to help people understand the current anxiety about influenza in the context of the risks we all face in our daily lives. This crucially important book, full of reasoned, knowledgeable advice, is an indispensable resource for fearful times.

About the authors

Born in London, Ontario, Vincent Lam is an emergency physician who also works in international air evacuation and on expeditions. His non-fiction has been widely published in Canada. He and his wife live in Toronto.

Vincent Lam's profile page

Colin Lee's profile page

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson. 

Margaret Atwood's profile page

Excerpt: The Flu Pandemic and You: A Canadian Guide (by (author) Vincent Lam & Colin Lee; foreword by Margaret Atwood)

Chapter 8
Things To Do In Everyday Life To Limit The Spread Of Influenza

This Chapter In One Page . . .

• Influenza infects your body through your mucous membranes: your nose, mouth, and eyes.

• Good handwashing and good cough and sneeze etiquette are always wise habits to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting any infection, and they are crucial to protecting your health during a pandemic. Be a good example for your children.

• “Social distancing” and trying to stay more than 1 metre away from people will decrease your risk of spreading or contracting influenza during a pandemic.

• Use a mask if you need to be less than 1 metre from a person who is ill with influenza, or if you must be in a crowd during Phase 6 of a pandemic. If you can, it’s even better to avoid crowds at this time.

• If you are going to be handling the bodily fluids or secretions of someone who is ill with influenza, wash your hands even more and consider wearing gloves.

• Choosing how to go about your daily life during a pandemic means striking a balance between an activity’s risk of exposing you to influenza, and whether that activity is essential for you.

• Cooperate with any containment measures in your community if they are used. They are well understood to be disruptive and therefore won’t be used unless they are felt to be important.

Chapter 4
Will History Repeat Itself? Influenza Pandemics Over The Centuries

This Chapter In One Page . . .

• Influenza pandemics have occurred repeatedly over the centuries.

• There were three pandemics in the 20th century. The first one was especially devastating, and the other two were much milder.

• In 1976, a pandemic was predicted, and a mass immunization campaign was undertaken in the United States to respond to this risk. The feared pandemic did not occur.

• SARS gave the world a recent taste of a global infectious disease outbreak. The rapid containment of SARS was an international public health success but does not guarantee a similar degree of success with an influenza pandemic.

• Some lessons from the influenza pandemics of the 20th century:

1. Pandemics often give some warning before doing their worst damage.
2. Pandemics tend to feature a “signature age shift,” meaning that younger adults become seriously ill and die in greater proportion than in seasonal influenza epidemics.
3. Pandemics tend to feature a rapid surge in the number of ill people.
4. The pandemics of the 20th century have given us knowledge and insight to be able to respond more meaningfully to future pandemics.
5. Honest and clear communication is the cornerstone of an effective response to a pandemic.

Food and Emergency Supplies to Stockpile

Some food and non­perishables
• Rice, lentils, beans, other grains
• Canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and soups
• Sugar, salt, and pepper
• High­energy, protein, or fruit bars
• Dry cereal or granola
• Peanut butter or nuts
• Dried fruit
• Crackers
• Canned juices
• Bottled water
• Specialized food for infants, elderly people, or persons with medical conditions

Some medical and other emergency supplies
• Prescribed medications
• Necessary medical equipment such as glucose test strips and needles for diabetics
• Soap and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer or cleanser
• “Comfort” medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Gravol
• Thermometer
• Multivitamins
• Contraceptives
• Oral rehydration fluids or powder
• Soap and detergent for clothes and dishes
• Flashlight
• Batteries
• Candles and matches
• Extra fuel for car, portable stove, or wood stove
• Portable radio (preferably windup)
• Manual can opener
• Garbage bags
• Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers
• Telephone that does not require an electrical outlet
• Surgical or procedure masks (not expensive N95 masks or respirators) and gloves
• First aid kit
• Cash
• Bicycle
• Extra warm clothing and blankets

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the American Medical Writers Association's Special Recognition Award

"A calm, practical and very thorough guide." —Margaret Atwood, from the Foreword

"Lam and Lee were front line doctors during Toronto's 2003 SARS outbreak and they are superb writers." —The Vancouver Sun
"The Flu Pandemic and You: A Canadian Guide manages to be both highly informative and very reassuring. . . . The authors take us into situations we don't want to think about, like being in the same house with family members suffering from influenza, and describe the procedures that will get everyone through with the best chance of survival. Whether they're dealing with N95 masks (awkward and probably not needed) or the wisdom of getting to know your neighbours, Lam and Lee write with calm lucidity. . . . [And] they explain enough to reassure the most anxious hypochondriac. When the pandemic does hit . . . this book will be more valuable than Tamiflu." —The Tyee

Other titles by Vincent Lam

Other titles by Margaret Atwood