Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ebola--is New Zealand ready?

New Zealanders have been watching the terrible events re Ebola unravelling in West Africa, probably feeling thankful that we are so far away and have a health system that is the envy of many countries. Our isolation has served us well, but one only has to go back to the post-WW1 period to see that we are not immune from the spread of catastrophic diseases. The death toll from that episode in history rivalled the numbers caused by the actual war. Today we hear that a nurse in Australia has retuned from West Africa and is exhibiting some of the symptoms associated with Ebola. It is early days and the brave nurse took all the necessary precautions that whatever she has does not spread. If the disease has reached Australia, the 'ditch' will be just that---a very narrow body of water separating us from our cousins and the high level of contact between our two countries, essentially makes us as one. If it proves that Australia has its first case, it can only be a matter of time before we too face our first case. The question must then be asked---how prepared is New Zealand? We need to hear from our leaders, political and medical, what level of planning has been implemented. We need to know in very clear terms what we need to look out for, amongst those returning from overseas and be able to immediately access health services. The days of the 'flu epidemics' will prove to be small episodes compared to the havoc that could be wrecked if Ebola does arrive in new Zealand. The coming weeks and days are not the chance for political foes to 'strut their stuff.' They must put aside internal wrangling and inter party point scoring. It is also a time where openness is the driving force. Let us also learn form what wed have observed in those countries starting to experience victims of Ebola returning and the development of Ebola-type symptoms. Public panic could easily result and the best way to prevent that is to inform the populace. A good place to start is in our schools. Good teaching can always be the basis to inform families about the moves they should be taking. Our schools can be a very important focus for keeping us all safe. The social media can also step up, but we need to be aware of the more negative side to this very important aspect to our lives. Panic contagion, as a result of misinformation can spread far more quickly than the more traditional sources of information. That must be taken into account and if that means a level of monitoring--am I saying spying?--- then that may have to happen. Monitoring social media is a very sensitive issue, one that reminds us of other times in recent history, one that some states do as a matter of course. Who monitors the 'watchers? New Zealanders have risen to the occasion in the past in times of crisis and we must pull together and face what could be a very testing time in the months ahead. Let's remain open and be prepared to work together!

Native pigeons at sunset and a crazy Jack Russell digging up carpet!

The title hardly says it all. No--the day was full of little surprises and adventures, for me and little Perdy. Everything went as per normal, for a lazy day in the holidays. No calls from agencies for a change and I even managed a nana-nap in the afternoon. That was when Perdy decided that I needed to take her out--well she needed a 'run.' Doug sent a message to say 'his call back day' was over and to come on around. Perdy yelped with happiness as we headed west---that always means something a little different. She placed herself firmly in the middle of the back seat so she could see ahead. Once we passed the bush at Green Bay, she knew we were going somewhere special. Once we arrived at Doug's little house, she became even more excited as I usually leave her in the car, because she just loves to look for cats, but sorry Perdy, it is still the car because we were about to pick Doug up and go for our walk. Ten minutes later, we pulled not the car park outside the water treatment park along the 'drive 'in Titirangi. I parked the car and let her out, intending to let her run for a while before sticking her leash on, something not really legal, but hey---what could a Jack Russell get up to?! She bounded off down the track, sniffing her way along and drawing the odd dismissive look from those without dogs. Just another hundred metres or so, I thought. Everything was just dandy until she stopped in her tracks. Above us a pair of native pigeons were involved in a bit of 'foreplay,' making heaps of noise and more than rustling the branches. Perdy is no prude when it comes to a of sniffing bits and pieces on other dogs but she took exception to the cavorting feathered lovers above. She set up a manic barking, demanding that the two lovers come down and explain themselves. The more she barked the ruder they became; nothing was going to interfere with their garrulous parade. By now Perdy was attracting the attention of other 'dogless' walkers; those in possession of hairy brutes, just smiled, but not the former. Time to retrieve my 'not Retriever.' I have learned through bitter and most frustrating experience that when Perdy is besotted with a rat, cat or feathered 'rat that flys, then my exhortations mean nothing. She feckin ignored me and no amount of displaying little treats meant a dammed thing and even the foulest of utterances were simply consigned to the bucket of useless animal behaviour therapies. So--I decided to ignore her and put my hopes on the alter of luck! I walked with Doug, further down the road and Perdy finally decided to follow--well sort of---she made the mistake of trying to squeeze past me---I pounced on her and had her on her leash before she could say---whatever Jack Russells say when they mean 'feck you boss!' Peace reined and we continued on what turned out to be a 4 kilometre walk and then retuned to Doug's place where a smoked fish pie, home made 'lemoncello' and home baked Louise Cake awaited. Bliss. Not quite! Perdy has one more trick in her hamper! She had no sooner entered Doug's home when she started to sniff around at the carpet. How embarrassing, I thought. Is she gonna piss or worse, present a belated number two? Doug laughed. The explanation was quite simple and very 'Perdy orientated.' It seems that there is a resident possum under Doug's house and he has sort of come to an accommodation with the said 'major pest' in New Zealand's bush. Doug was quite happy to declare a truce so long as the beast did no damage in his beautiful garden. Perdy has other intentions, mainly trying to dig through Doug's carpet and the next hour was one spent in my trying to prevent a final breakthrough. In between consuming the afore mentioned wonderful food and partaking of the offered beverages, which included an old-fashioned coffee, percolated in a retro coffee pot. After a relaxing time in the house on the hill, New Zealand's version of 'a little house on the Prairie,'I persuaded Perdy that it was time to head on home. I look forward to many more nights at the little house with Doug's home cooking and the odd glass of wine. Of course we will need to walk first before rewarding ourselves with the fabulous food. Roll on the next holidays!