The Flu Pandemic and You: A Canadian Guide.


344 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-385-66277-2
DDC 614.5'18





Reviewed by Dave Bennett

David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.


A global flu pandemic is inevitable. The source, scale, and timing of the pandemic are unknown, though the most likely cause is a new, mutated strain of the H5N1 avian flu virus. Lam and Lee have produced an exhaustive and level-headed guide to the precautions that could or should be taken at the personal, community, and government levels. These precautions are both preventive and remedial: measures to prevent and arrest the development of a flu outbreak as well as personal and public health measures to reduce the death rate and provide medical care.


The Flu Pandemic and You is not just a self-help book. It is also an authoritative guide to the science of pandemics, the ethical issues involved, and the precautions to take in the face of an uncertain and unpredictable future.


There is one weakness in the book a weakness shared by almost all practitioners in the area. The Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan (CPIP) has the dual aim of addressing pandemics through public health measures and minimizing the resulting societal disruption. On the former aim, the CPIP is very well advanced, but on the latter, a question of societal mobilization, little has been proposed. There is, for instance, no consideration of using employer and worker organizations, both to address the issue of workplace infection control and to minimize socio-economic disruption. Correspondingly, Lam and Lee do not alert us to the difficult social and industrial issues that are as vital to pandemic planning as public health measures.


In view of the general vacuum in this area, this criticism is a small one of what is by far the best book to date on the coming flu pandemic.


Lam, Vincent, and Colin Lee., “The Flu Pandemic and You: A Canadian Guide.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 16, 2024,