Today’s lessons

While rummaging through all the local news sources for a good moose story, I couldn’t help noticing two things. There has been a spate of collisions with the ‘King of the Forest’, as the moose is called here. At the same time, the eastern district newspaper Østlendingen reported that fewer such rough encounters were expected now, at least in Hedmark County.

However, a recent fatal collision between a motorcyclist and a moose was the most shocking of recent meetings between animal and vehicle, and a bit more information was needed to make this prediction seem convincing. The reasons are that the grand beasts are now on the way to their summer grazing areas, and that statistically this is a quieter time, as the lengthening days grant greater visibility to drivers, and apparently calmer moose.

There will, nevertheless, be many moose making the trek to greener pastures, and drivers should be especially vigilant from sunset, when the danger of a surprise meeting is particularly high.

Except for moose traffic warnings, there is little to report. The city of Hamar in Hedmark has had a moose wandering around in the middle of town lately, and a 12-year-old girl captured the misplaced giant on ‘film’ when it startled her by walking right past her window. The local Game Committee said that they had received many calls about the city moose, but were going to hope it found its way back to the woods on its own.

Besides moose migratory habits, the Norwegian media also forced me to learn a bit more about swine flu today.  A big headline of the day is the confirmed case of Influenza A H1N1 in Trondheim, Norway’s third largest city. After all the fuss about the WHO preferring to call swine flu precisely that, and reports here that made the change sound like the ‘virus formerly known as’, one could be forgiven for thinking that swine flu had arrived in Norway, but no, at least no definitely yet.

H1N1 is a sub-type of Influenza A, and swine flu is a subtype of H1N1, so further tests will be required to determine whether the trendy disease has made it to Norway, but the woman being examined was in Mexico last week.

A full explanation of the classification can be found on Wikipedia, but why the new name is supposed to be more accurate is beyond me. Granted, ‘Influenza A (H1N1)’ sounds more scientific, but for the new strain, ‘Mexican swine flu’ remains the only game in town at the moment. And since it is easier to have Influenza A (H1N1), surely the name change will only make things harder to understand for the general public?

In any event, the test results for Norway’s first possible case are expected back tomorrow.

PS: Interestingly, just after I hit the publish button here, I went back and had a quick surf, and saw that Aftenposten’s top story online now is titled ‘Would rather have seen a more precise name’, about the confusion and fright the change to A H1N1 has caused.

Since the WHO is worried about the reputation of pigs, pork and Mexico, one would assume that they should at least assign the new strain its own personal code number soon.

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2 responses to “Today’s lessons

  1. According to WikiPedia, the “code number” can’t really be changed:

    “””
    Influenza A virus strains are categorized according to two viral proteins, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). All influenza A viruses contain hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, but the structure of these proteins differs from strain to strain due to rapid genetic mutation in the viral genome. Influenza A virus strains are assigned an H number and an N number based on which forms of these two proteins the strain contains.
    “””

    • Jonathan Tisdall

      Yes, that is clear, but surely they must have a system for classifying sub-strains, which is what ‘Mexican Swine Flu’ is? If not, how can they ever classify new variants? If all they do is hand out descriptive names, then they should find one they like rather than go up a level and cause confusion by using the strain name?

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