First there was bird flu and now we get to experience swine flu. Quick! Get a surgical mask, wash your hands, lock your doors, and don’t go outside. No, just kidding, don’t do that. Well, wash your hands, but you don’t have to quarantine yourself (unless you actually have swine flu, then stay away from me!) So, swine flu is the talk of the town...or the country...or the world. As you can guess by the name, it is a respiratory disease in pigs that rarely infects humans, until now! Lucky us. Symptoms in humans are similar to regular influenza including fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, with the occasional runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You can’t catch the virus by eating pork products, it is air borne, so there's no escape from it *insert evil laugh here*. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, declared a public health emergency in the United States. Don't panic, this means funds will be released to support the public heath response, and that’s a good thing. I’m not going to take the media stance on this and scare you with the fact that 149 deaths in Mexico are believed to be related to the swine flu, or that there are over 40 cases found in the United States, 28 of those in New York City. No, I will not spread fear into the American public. But, I suppose it’s always good to know the facts, even though these numbers are minuscule compared to the 36,000 Americans who die on average per year from the complications of flu. The numbers might just be a tad higher this year, that's all. I don’t mean to make light of swine flu, but if you are smart about your health there isn’t anything to worry about. Here are some tips from the CDC on staying healthy. Also, check out our Hot Spots for Germs slideshow and how to disinfect and keep you and your home germ free.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.