Influenza. It comes into our lives this time every year. Lately, our North Island counterparts have had a freakish scare with the Swine flu. But before we get too excited, just consider that, given the right strain and conditions, any flu is potentially life-threatening.
In 1918, the world was in the grip of the Spanish flu epidemic. It killed 50 million people worldwide. Here in Western Southland, our numbers were small but no less significant. In Nightcaps and Wairio 33 died. While in Otautau, the flu claimed 21 lives; and in Riverton 16*.
How can you protect yourself against the flu? Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Stay away from sick people. Try not to touch your nose, eyes and mouth. If you do feel sick, stay home. Sneeze or cough into a handkerchief or sleeve. Contact the Otautau Medical Centre for further advice.
*Source: NZHistory website's South Island's Influenza death rates