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Oct 15, 2009


Have you had the flu this year? Do you know anyone who has had it? It can be a nasty illness. Usually you have a temperature, you feel weak, and sometimes you might have a cough also. There is a lot of talk about flus at the moment. You have probably heard about the new H1N1 flu. It seems to be scaring a lot of people. When I say that it is a new flu, what that means is that, though it is from the family of flus, it is slightly different than any that we are used to. It is cold and flu season here at the moment. Lots of children are staying home from school because they have a touch of this, or a touch of that. It's best to stay at home, get lots of rest, preferably stay in bed, and have nutritious drinks and food, if you feel like eating. Your body will fight the virus that you have, and it will eventually win. Thank goodness! Isn't it great that our bodies can do that! Doctors say, that to prevent illness there are some golden rules: wash your hands with soap and water regularly, avoid sick people, sleep well, eat well, and try not to touch door knobs and taps because they usually are covered in germs. Still, even if you do all these things, the viruses that float around in the air are difficult to avoid. Our local community has flu shots, or injections, every year. They say that the most vunerable people, such as the very young, the very old, and those who have weak immune systems, should have the shot. It is not a pleasant thing to have, but you can avoid a bad virus if you get the injection.

Grammar notes.

Related vocabulary: a virus, to float, to avoid, germs, immune system, a touch of (illness).


I felt terrible for a week. I had some kind of virus, though I didn't know exactly what it was.

Look how the clouds float in the sky!

We avoid that area of town; it doesn't seem safe.

Wash your hands! They must be covered in germs!

His immune system must be weak because he gets one illness after another.

I have a touch of bronchitis; it's not too bad at the moment, and it's getting better.


The flu really has quite a history. Throughout history, humans have suffered because of various flus. One of the worst was the Spanish flu which caused the deaths of 100 million people around the time of the First World War. It didn't originate in Spain, and is only called the Spanish flu because Spain was the only country during the war that didn't have censorship in its newspapers. It is thought that the majority of those  people who died, did so because of complications and infections after getting the flu. Now a days, we have access to antibiotics and better quality medicines and health treatment, so even if we get the flu, we can quickly intervene if our health gets worse. So, what is the panic about the H1N1? The World Health Organisation has called it a pandemic, which means that it has spread quickly all over the world. And, what does H1N1 mean, anyway? Well, flu viruses come from humans, pigs, and birds. Apparently, they all have two proteins on their surface, but each flu has a slightly different arrangement, and that is because the viruses can change or mutate. The H and the N are the first letters of the names of the proteins. It's fascinating, isn't it? Many people have had the H1N1 flu and not realised it, thinking that it was a virus that they had had before. Well, I suppose we will get used to it, because it is here to stay, unfortunately. We can only do our best to stay healthy and clean, and follow the golden rules to avoid contracting the virus. Let's hope that we all stay healthy this year!

Grammar notes.

Related vocabulary: censorship, to intervene, antibiotics, protein.   Practice of 'though'.


The Mexican press now no longer has censorship.

The Special Forces intervened and trapped the criminals.

The baby has an ear infection, so he needs antibiotics.

The body builder has to eat a lot of protein every day to keep his muscles big.

Practice of 'though'.

(similar to 'but' or 'however') I never got a long with him, though I did like his sister.

(short for 'even though') Though we were tired, we carried on dancing.