As flu season reaches peak WHO steps up efforts to fight disease

The World Health Organization (WHO) also strongly advised early vaccination as the best prevention against the potentially devastating disease. “Influenza vaccines have an excellent safety record. In particular, the elderly and patients with chronic illnesses should see their doctor or health worker and get their flu vaccination,” said Dr. David L. Heymann, Executive Director at WHO Communicable Diseases branch. For healthy people, influenza normally amounts to high fever, headache and a few days in bed. However, for the elderly and chronically ill, the flu can be fatal. To save lives, WHO brings together influenza experts every year to compose a vaccine for the following year. More than 230 million vaccine doses are used annually. According to WHO, during the annual epidemics influenza infects as many as 100 million people annually in the northern hemisphere. While exact figures are unavailable for most countries, in the United States influenza kills approximately 20,000 people each year, the agency said. The elderly and children under one year of age are particularly at risk. History shows the potentially devastating consequences of the disease. The “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918-19 claimed up to 40 million lives, while in Hong Kong, China, in 1997, one-third of infected patients died. read more

Orientation welcomes international students to their new home

Only one week into the new year, Namesha Patel had already experienced many firsts.After leaving her home in Gujarat, India, to live thousands of miles away for the very first time, she arrived in Canada Dec. 31 to start her university experience at Brock.The timing meant Namesha, joined by fellow students Kesha Shah and Krisha Patel, who had also just arrived from India, was able to celebrate the new year in Niagara Falls with a dazzling firework display and live performances.“It was windy and it was cold,” Namesha said. “The weather is really new for us, but we had so much fun.”The new friends continued to bond Sunday, Jan. 6, when the trio joined more than 130 students from 11 countries at an orientation held by Brock International Services.An opportunity for students to learn the ins and outs of their new school, the orientation marked a record for the University, which saw the highest enrolment of international students for a January start date in its history. With more than 200 new additions, Brock’s total number of international students on campus increased to more than 2,100 from 100 countries.The orientation officially welcomes newly arrived international students in undergraduate and graduate programming from across all Faculties to campus.The session kicked off with a food and vendor fair, where students had the opportunity to receive their student card, mix and mingle with fellow international students, and commemorate their first day on campus with a picture in a photo booth.Students were also informed about important services offered on campus. Staff from Brock International Services were also on hand to emphasize the support available for those who might be feeling homesick, challenged by language or cultural barriers or just interested in becoming more involved at Brock and in the local community.The day was filled with mixed emotions for Namesha. While being excited about starting her degree, she was nervous about starting classes. In addition to living away from home for the first time, many international students also have to become familiar with a completely different education system.Brock International Services has developed a number of workshops to help international students adjust, including the upcoming Learning Strategies for International Students on Friday, Jan. 11. For a complete list of support workshops and information on one-on-one support, students can visit the workshop website.After the vendor fair, a formal presentation took place to highlight exclusive services for international students and provide information on health insurance coverage, joining student clubs, setting up a bank account and other pertinent information to help acclimate students to their new home.To encourage students to explore the region, information was also provided on a number of upcoming events, including an escorted day trip to Niagara Falls on Saturday, Jan. 12 and Niagara-on-the-Lake on Saturday, Jan. 19.The orientation day finished off with a tour of campus provided by Brock International Student Ambassadors, and a shopping trip to learn where they can pick-up essentials while living in St. Catharines.International students who were unable to attend the event are welcomed to the late orientation session on Thursday, Jan. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the International Centre Global Commons. read more