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What's in the news: Oct. 16 -- The H1N1 flu's second wave is here

This month marks the beginning of what appears to be the anticipated "second wave" of the H1N1 flu pandemic in Canada, with clusters of cases appearing once again. [Toronto Star]

As doctors anxiously await the arrival of the vaccine, health officials are busy trying to simultaneously push back against rumours that the vaccine might be dangerous or useless and (so far unsuccessfully, it seems) convince people to wash their hands and stop coughing on one another.

Meanwhile, researchers around the world are still learning more about the virus and the disease it causes.

American government researchers found that people killed by the H1N1 flu have often had bacterial coinfections in their lungs, including with the bacterium pneumococcus. That means the pneumococcal vaccine is an important element in the effort to keep patients safe this flu season, the researchers said.

Early use of the H1N1 vaccine in China by the World Health Organization showed some very minor side effects, like headaches and muscle cramps.

Canada granted drug and vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline immunity in potential H1N1 vaccine lawsuits. "We're not obviously anticipating problems with it, but indemnification for a vaccine is important if someone does malpractice, basically injects someone the wrong way or causes harm because of their practice," Dr David Butler-Jones, the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, told reporters. [Toronto Star]

British Columbia came to an agreement with its doctors to pay $14.74 for fielding H1N1-related phone calls. BC physicians should use the billing code PG13705 on their claims. Another new billing code, PG13700, will pay family physicians $31.15 for office visits to deal with the H1N1 flu. Both new fees will cease to be available when the Provincial Health Officer decides they are no longer necessary. [BC Medical Services Plan information on the new H1N1 flu codes for physicians (PDF)]

Contrary to the rumoured results of Canadian research that circulated recently, a new Mexican study suggests the seasonal flu shot might actually aid H1N1 flu immunity rather than encourage it. [Globe and Mail]

It turns out that a Manitoba reserve -- and not the federal government -- was responsible for requesting the large shipment of body bags that was responsible for a major controversy and much mudslinging at Health Canada. [Globe and Mail]

Several Winnipeg physicians recommended that doctors should make sure they have enough sedatives and antimicrobials on hand to treat H1N1-flu patients in the ICU. [CMAJ]

Using electronic text messages displayed in public restrooms, British researchers discovered that shame is the most powerful motivator in getting people to wash their hands, more so than reason or disgust. The lesson may be transferable. "A similar method of unobtrusive observation should also work for other kinds of behaviors important to public health, such as smoking cessation and alcohol moderation campaigns."

A Prince Edward Island physician surmised that an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus in the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room would wreak havoc on the team's ability to win hockey games. "Well," Dr Richard Schabas, the former chief medical officer of Ontario, told the National Post, "at least they are going to have an excuse this time."

Image: Shutterstock

5 ways to deal with online MD ratings

What’s your recourse when web reviews get ugly?

Much the same way you can review books or rate your kitchen appliances, Canadian patients are busy kibitzing about their doctors online. Although some doctors welcome the feedback, plenty of others can’t stomach the idea of anonymous, unproven accusations made public. What are your options to deal with online reviews?

to read the five ways doctors can handle negative ratings, from Parkhurst Exchange magazine's current issue.

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