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Swine flu worries limit touching in Samoa

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  • Swine flu worries limit touching in Samoa

    Swine flu worries limit touching in Samoa

    Published: Sept. 4, 2009 at 11:33 AM
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    A cadet loses his hat while hugging a friend during the 2009 United States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 27, 2009. (UPI Photo/Gary C. Caskey)

    NEW YORK, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Samoans may be best prepared to avoid transmitting the H1N1 swine flu because of their island customs, an anthropologist says.

    Alessandro Duranti, who specializes in linguistics, says in Samoa people to do not touch when they greet each other, The New York Times reported Friday. Unfortunately, that is not true in the rest of the world where shaking hands, kissing or hugging is a traditional method of greeting.

    In Glen Cove, N.Y., school officials are discouraging students from exchanging high-fives while Spain's health minister is asking citizens to forgo the customary greeting of a kiss on both cheeks.

    In the Middle East, officials from Lebanon to Kuwait are calling on Muslims celebrating Ramadan not to engage in excessive hugging.

    "The closer your mucus membranes come to the other person's mucus membranes, the risk is going to increase," says Philip L. Graham III, a pediatric epidemiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

    Samoans may be best prepared to avoid transmitting the H1N1 swine flu because of their island customs, an anthropologist says.

  • #2
    Re: Swine flu worries limit touching in Samoa

    Some historical data on Samoa from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic


    1918 pandemic in polynesia and fiji small island developing states


    page 358 F I J I .
    In a report dated the 18th January 1919, the Chief Medical Officer of Fiji states that it is a matter of uncertainty, or even impossibility, to define the manner in which the epidemic of influenza first gained admission to the Colony, especially in view that (I) there was undoubtedly influenza (which in some cases was of a severe type and complicated by pneumonia) in widely separated districts of Fiji for some months before the epidemic ; (2) all incoming vessels arrived with clean bills of health until the disease was raging all through the Colony,

    page 359 In Suva there were some cases of influenza of moderate severity during October, and reports were received of localised outbreaks in Taveuni, Labasa, Navua, and Kadavu, but the main epidemic in Fiji burst out about the middle of November.

    The earliest fatal cases in Suva occurred on 17th November, and thereafter the reports of burials for influenza fatalities on certain dates were as follows : [tables]

    It was not found possible to keep records of the number of persons attacked, but the Chief Medical Officer considered that it would not be an exaggerated estimate to say that 85 to 90 per cent of the whole population of Suva and district were affected at some time or another during the course of the epidemic?.

    The decline of the epidemic was said to be rapid from the middle of December. By the 24th of that month all four temporary hospitals which had been established in Suva were

    page 360 closed, and after the 28 th no more notifications of genuine cases were received.

    Measures.? Owing to the absence of many officers on War service, to local shipping difficulties, and to the dislocation of the steamship service from Australia and New Zealand, the Colony was ill-prepared to deal with so serious an epidemic.

    In November the disease was made notifiable under the Public Health Ordinance of 1911, and circulars were sent to all medical officers, native medical practitioners, and native officials, calling attention to the epidemic, suggesting methods of treatment, advising that food be stored in all villages, and authorising the use of plantation hospitals for the treatment of cases. Temporary hospitals were equipped and maintained in Suva, Levuka, and other centres. Depots were also established from which soup, arrowroot, sago, and other food and medical comforts were distributed to the homes of natives who were too ill to help themselves. In this work the medical officers and other officials in the Colony were assisted by a large number of voluntary workers. A relief party of 4 medical officers, 1 lady doctor, 4 nurses, 3 senior students, and 24 orderlies was sent by the New Zealand Government to assist in dealing with the epidemic, and arrived at Suva on the 17th December. The complete cessation of steamship communication with Sydney prevented the arrival of a relief party which had been asked for from Australia, but the services of two medical officers and some medical orderlies, who were members of the relief party sent by Australia to deal with the epidemic in Samoa, were obtained.

    The expenditure incurred in relief measures in connection with the epidemic was estimated to be approximately 10,000?.

    page 360 T H E S A M O A I S L A N D S.
    A Commission appointed by the Governor-General of New Zealand to inquire into the circumstances and causes of the introduction of epidemic influenza into the Islands of Western Samoa reported that in their opinion there was no doubt whatever that epidemic pneumonic influenza was introduced into Western Samoa by the S.S. ? Talune? on the 7th November 1918. This ship left Auckland (where influenza was seriously prevalent) on the 30th October, and influenza broke out among the passengers and crew during the voyage to Samoa. Within seven days after her arrival, pneumonic influenza was epidemic in Upolu. It spread with great rapidity throughout this island and later throughout Savaii, the other island of Western Samoa.

    It was calculated that up to the 31st December 1918, out of a population of 30,738 in Western Samoa, 7,542 persons had died either directly from influenza or in consequence of its prevalence.

    page 361 The Commission reported that American Samoa (Pago Pago) had entirely escaped the ravages of influenza, and it appears, from their report, that from the 20th November, to avoid the risk of introduction from Apia, the United States Governor at Pago Pago imposed on all ships arriving at this port five days absolute quarantine before discharging or taking on board any mail or cargo.

    P O L Y N E S I A.
    Dr. Cumpston, Director of Quarantine for the Commonwealth of Australia, has drawn attention to the relative incidence of influenza in certain of the Pacific Islands. He notes that the Tonga and Samoan Islands are based upon New Zealand, from which they receive all supplies. Both these groups of islands were very heavily infected and suffered a high mortality.

    On the other hand, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, New Hebrides, Norfolk Island, Solomon Islands, British and German New Guinea and New Caledonia all are based on Australia, with which alone they have communication. This group of islands entirely escaped influenza infection, a result which is ascribed by the French Authorities and by the local British Administration to the strict outward quarantine precautions which were taken by the Australian Quarantine Service in respect of all vessels leaving Australia for these island groups.