Tweens banned from kissing cardboad Robert Pattinson

The second movie in the Twilight series, New Moon, hit theatres last month and though ashamed to admit it, I went to see it. A friend asked me to go to the midnight screening, so I entered the tween-packed theatre (2 hours past my bedtime) and begrudgingly watched the hyped film into the wee hours of the morning. I would have rather just slept.

But Twilight tweens are crazy in love with Edward Cullen, the vampire played by actor Robert Pattinson. So in love, that some fans kiss the cardboard cut-outs of the vampire, requiring a UK cinema to ban the potentially disease spreading act.

This Is Staffordshire Online reports,

[The Reel Cinema] has banned fans from kissing the cardboard cutout of a film’s lead actor – because they might catch swine flu.

Teenage girls had been planting kisses on, or hugging, the cutout of Brit heartthrob Robert Pattinson, but the fun is now over after a warning was slapped across Robert’s face.

It reads: "Please help reduce the spread of germs by refraining from giving Edward, or any other character for that matter, a kiss or hug."

New Moon fan, James Meek, said,

"I understand why the cinema has put the sign up but we had a little bit of a chuckle at it. It’s a bit silly."

Herpes, hepatitis A, swine flu — beer pong transmits disease?

No beer pong? What is college life without beer pong?

Last year, some publication at the University of California at Los Angeles – UCLA – warned students that beer pong, a communal drinking game, could be a source of infectious disease like herpes.

The N.Y Times reports tomorrow that students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., are being asked to refrain from playing beer pong after an outbreak of illness that officials feared might be swine flu.

The story notes that what used to be O.K. is not anymore, as the flu has ushered in new standards of etiquette that can be, in turns, mundane, absurd and heartbreaking.

Heartbreaking and beer pong. College life is tragic.

Air kissing or ‘la bise’ discouraged in France because of H1N1 flu

It was so confusing when I was in France: do you kiss anyone on the cheek or just friends; two pecks or three (the further south, the greater the frequency of the tri-peck). I usually defaulted to a handshake, but after a fabulous lunch with tons of great wine at a chateau near Bordeaux where I had unlimited Internet access for the first time in two weeks, I gave the dude a bi-peck at the train station – we had just met, and he was a little taken aback (that’s me and the dude at a wedding in Montreal a couple of months later 2007, right, below; look at that suit).

Now, according to  Associated Press, the French tradition of "la bise," the cheek-to-cheek peck that the French use to say hello or goodbye, has come under pressure from a globalized threat: swine flu.

Some French schools, companies and a Health Ministry hotline are telling students and employees to avoid the social ritual out of fear the pandemic could make it the kiss of death, or at least illness, as winter approaches.

For kids in two schools in the town of Guilvinec, in France’s western Brittany region, the first lesson of the year came from local officials: no more cheek kisses to teachers or other students.

The national government isn’t calling for a ban. But the Health Ministry, on its swine flu phone hotline, recommends that people avoid "close contact — including shaking hands and giving the bise."

Pray the flu away: Religious groups become involved in H1N1 prevention

Manhattan feels markedly different this fall. Returning to campus, I’ve seen Doug’s “How to avoid H1N1 and seasonal flu” in every bathroom in the veterinary medicine buildings. Everyone’s whispering about H1N1 and many preventative methods have been put in place to keep the flu at bay. At St. Isidore’s Catholic Church, they’ve even gone as far as to discontinue communion wine for the congregation. Chaplain Fr Keith Weber says that the decision was made by the staff and not mandated by the diocese. Will it be mandatory in the future?

Drinking the communion wine always felt like a bit of Russian roulette for me. How healthy was the person who drank before me? During the winter when the whole church was coughing and hacking, I decided to skip it entirely. I had accepted the fact that this public health nightmare would continue indefinitely. St. Isidore’s new policy of discontinuing communion wine is definitely a smart move to join the “avoid H1N1” campaign.

The policy for distributing communion wafers has always been to wash your hands before the service starts, but now there is also a bottle of antibacterial available to use immediately before giving out communion. St. Isidore’s is just one of many churches around the country (and globally) implementing these anti-flu strategies. The virus once known as swine flu has affected the practices of Christians and Muslims, especially in Great Britain.

The archbishops of Canterbury and York said the church’s worship needed to "take into account the interests of public health during the current phase of the swine flu pandemic."

The Muslim Council of Britain has released guidelines to Muslims urging imams and mosque committee members to increase the awareness among the Muslim community about the dangers of using communal towels during cleansing ceremonies before worship.

As far as working against H1N1, it’s a good step in the right direction. Even once the pandemic has blown over, shouldn’t these practices stay in place to prevent future diseases?

Horny college students told to wear surgical masks when kissing to reduce risk of swine flu

Is grinding an effective form of birth control? Are condoms recommended during oral sex? Should horny college students kiss while wearing surgical masks to reduce incidence of swine flu?

In what should provide a stimulus to the sexy doctor/nurse outfit industry, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control yesterday issued advice suggesting that if college students are ill, they should refrain from kissing but, if they must, wear a surgical mask while doing the deed.

Substitute the word condom for mask in the following excerpts from the story; makes it fun.

The recommendation reads, "If close contact with others cannot be avoided, the ill student should be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact. Examples of close contact include kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or having any other contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets."

CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner acknowledged that the language of the recommendation was confusing and that the agency would "look at rewording" the guidance.

"We’re not telling them to wear a mask when they kiss," Skinner said. "What we’re trying to do is give examples of ‘close contact.’"

We’ll stick with our advice, below.

Is this picture too gross? Will you think about washing your hands? H1N1 edition

Those ubiquitous signs, “Employees Must Wash Hands” probably don’t have the desired effect. Jon Stewart says, they sure ain’t keeping the piss out of your Happy Meals.

Some people have told us images like the one below, are too graphic and will offend people. Maybe. I’m offended that people don’t wash their hands which can lead to other people barfing and spreading things like the H1N1 virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control seems to agree, and has called for new food safety messages using new media.

So with all those germ factories … I mean students … returning to the confined quarters of residence living, here’s some tips for not barfing:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Keep away from others as much as possible.

• Wash your hands often especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective, but are best used after proper handwashing.

Preparing for flu in the Soo

OK, I blog a lot about Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Maybe it’s because I’m away from home, but usually it just cracks me up to read what the local Sooites are up to this week. Regardless, The Sault Star reports that the local university and college campuses are preparing for September and potential outbreaks of H1N1 virus.

Since swine flu emerged in April, Sault College’s health and safety committee started preparing a pandemic plan… Via e-mails and the school’s dozens of "infonet screens" throughout the building, students and staff were also bombarded with information about prevention and containment through, for example, handwashing, sneezing into the elbow and staying in your room or home if not feeling well. As well, hand sanitizer dispensers were placed in high-use areas, such as computer rooms, cafeteria and workout areas…

[Algoma University] also plans to put up information posters and bulletins reflecting the latest from the World Health Organization and distributing hand sanitizers to every employee…

The confined quarters of university and college dorms can lead to illness outbreaks, and handwashing signs and sanitizer are OK for trying to promote hand hygiene – if the medium grabs your attention and the message is compelling. Dirty Finger Al (pictured), my favourite Food Safety Infosheet, did just that, sparking dialogue among food handlers. Will the handwashing signs in Sault College and Algoma U spark dialogue, or go unnoticed by students come September?

My fake basbeball team impacted by swine flu scare

At some point a few years ago video games were replaced by fantasy sports as my free time diversion of choice. I’m not really into cycling, but I love fantasy baseball and fantasy football (referred to by Dani as fake baseball and football).

This is a bit of a hectic time of year, the fantasy baseball trade deadline is looming in both of my leagues and football research is gearing up. Some infectious disease news is impacting my trade plans as the Texas Rangers (one of the American League’s surprising teams) have one confirmed case of H1N1/swine flu in the clubhouse (Vicente Padilla) and potentially 3 more including one of my catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Infectious diseases like influenza and norovirus are often transferred between teammates on major sports teams.

Not good news. I was hoping to make a run for the final playoff spot in one of my leagues and not having Salty for a week or so might eliminate all hope for me.

From CBS sportsline:

News: Texas C Jarrod Saltalamacchia sat out again on Saturday against the Royals with the flu. It was the second straight game he missed with the illness and he remains questionable for the series finale with the Royals on Sunday.
Analysis: Salty is hitting .242 this season with seven homers and 30 RBI. His teammate Vicente Padilla has come down with swine flu and it’s not known if he also has that illness. 

H1N1=wash your hands

Doug introduced me to Google Alerts a few weeks ago and my email inbox hasn’t been the same since. I get approximately 50-100 email hits on handwashing everyday. Most of them are relevant to washing hands, but some are about handwashing clothes and dishes.

The reason for sharing my numerous emails: wash your hands.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced raising the alert level to phase 6, the pandemic phase. The severity of the virus, H1N1, is moderate, claims the WHO. Across the world there are newly suspected cases of so-called swine flu. In the US alone, there have been 17,800 confirmed cases, 1600 hospitalized, and 44 deaths; all are attributed to H1N1 flu.

Every reported case in the news or other blogs is typically accompanied with a campaign for their readers to wash their hands. I, of course, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to inform BarfBlog readers to do the same.

Handwashing can reduce sickness by an estimated 25%. Hands should be washed before and after handling food, using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, and blowing ones nose. Also, people should avoid touching their face (eyes, nose, and mouth) to reduce their risk.

Mayor Ray Nagin quarantined over H1N1 connection

FOX8 New Orleans is reporting what might be the first celebrity quarantine due to H1N1 (the virus formerly known as swine flu). Mayor Nagin was reportedly on a flight to China with someone who was displaying symptoms and is suspected to have the virus.

According to officials, the passenger is undergoing quarantine and treatment. Mayor Nagin, his wife, and one member of his Executive Protection Unit is also being held in quarantine in Shanghai in order to keep them symptom free.

The mayor is not displaying any symptoms of the virus and is being treated with great courtesy from Chinese officials.