Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 01.26.07
Stanstead, Quebec


How to avoid the flu

What is the flu? The flu is a seasonal illness that is easily transmitted from person to person. It's really quite social - a social disease.

Let me start that again.

What is the flu? The flu is a seasonal illness that is easily transmitted from person to person. Lots of people get it.

The flu may be as contagious as yawns in a sleep clinic but that doesn't mean it can't be avoided. First, though, some background:

The word "influenza" is from the Greek, meaning "like the plague but without the sympathy."

The flu was invented in Spain in 1918, and the craze soon swept the globe. Later, many Asian countries adapted the flu, making it cheaper and more compact. Bird Flu is named after former NBA great Larry Bird, who suffered from the disease, resulting in him being kinda dorky looking.

Symptoms of the flu include aching, coughing, fever, and newspaper articles. However, the latter only occur when there is no unseasonable weather to report.

The flu tends to be most common during the winter, with onset occurring most often on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings.

The seasonal nature of the disease contributes to the erroneous belief that the flu is caused by cold weather. In fact, the flu occurs at this time of year because we use our clothes dryers more, dryer lint being a notorious carrier of viruses.

There also tends to be confusion over what to call an outbreak of influenza. When an outbreak is isolated to a closed group, it's called an "epidemic." When it affects several populations across a number of boundaries, it's a "pandemic."

When it affects the owners of muscle cars, it's called a "trans-amdemic."

Flu is spread in ways that are, let's face it, pretty disgusting when you come right down to it. Fluids - yuck!

Flu is especially prevalent among young children, mainly due to their disgusting nature. The Quebec government acknowledged this fact a few years ago when they stopped calling daycares "garderies" and began referring to them as "centres de petit enfance," which, when broken down into its Latin roots, means "greenhouses for little germs."

Consequently, it is a good idea to avoid contact with children during flu season. This is actually a good rule of thumb for all aspects of living. Children - yuck!

The flu manifests itself by attacking the central duotang, resulting in a weakened vestibule. Some victims report severe eye shrinkage.

Influenza can be fatal. On the plus side, it's a pretty good conversation starter.

There continues to be a debate over whether you should get a flu vaccine each year. On the pro side, inoculation tends to reduce the likelihood of infection. On the con side, the needles are ouchy.

Flu trivia: During the Swine Flu scare of 1976, country hip-hop artist Big Poppa Bubba Rap had a short-lived Top 10 hit entitled "Influenza and Out Flew My Heart."

And so at last, here are some tips on how to avoid the flu:

  • Don't make eye contact with the flu.

  • Don't return the flu's phone calls.

  • When you see the flu coming, duck into an empty room.

  • When the flu asks to get together on the weekend, apologize and say you've already made plans with streptococcus.