Pacific edition, Sunday, March 8, 2009
In their spare time, they play cards and share snacks, even drinks. Strangers are greeted with handshakes, and over a single day, some doorknobs will get turned by hundreds of palms.
And it’s human nature for people to touch their own eyes, noses and mouths without a second thought. But a cough or sneeze in the wrong direction can trigger a chain reaction the Army is diligently fighting to prevent — not only in war zones but also in large field exercises such as North Wind.
In Hokkaido’s deep snow and wicked wind, dressing warmly just isn’t enough. The influenza bug can bite in any weather.
Flu outbreaks crop up routinely and can spread rapidly on droplets, with deadly consequences. There hasn’t been a pandemic in more than four decades, but medical experts say it’s just a matter of time.