Saturday, May 2, 2009

Let's Nip This Swine In The Bud!

Unless you’ve been living on Mars (and if you are, thanks for reading my blog!), by now you’ve heard about the potential pandemic swine flu that has already rapidly spread through parts of Mexico and is heading north into the United States. In fact, hundreds of cases attributed to this deadly virus have begun popping up in several states. The intent of this post is not to stoke the fires of fear that the WHO (World Health Organization) has caused in us by raising the pandemic alert level from 4 to 5. The WHO should be doing everything they can to call attention to this influenza…and so should you!

But don’t just watch this outbreak on the news and be scared, do something about it. Now is the time for everyone to pitch in and beat back this swine by doing something as simple as washing your hands. Or covering your mouth after sneezing or coughing. Or staying home rather than going into work when you are sick and contagious.

A few months ago, I wrote a post called, “Beat Those Winter Blues.” In it, I talked about ways to prevent suffering those lows that cold weather, lack of sun, and the onset of the flu season challenge us with during that time of year. Here is an excerpt on how to avoid spreading germs that will help nip this swine flu in the bud before it spreads further:


Sneezing, coughing, phlegm-laden human beings that you come into contact with are everywhere this time of year, and often unavoidable. But you CAN protect yourself from catching whatever illness is ailing them by following a few precautions:

*Try to avoid shaking hands or having other contact if you know someone is sick.
*Wash your hands with HOT water and soap throughout the day. If you can't, then carry a hand sanitizer with you and use that until you can wash properly.
*Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, hoping that others will do the same for you.
*Always use a Kleenex, and toss it when done. Don't use hankies, they hold germs.
*Wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER using a public restroom, then use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and one for the door handle.
*Try to avoid sharing telephones, keyboards, pens–anything where hand-to-hand contact is prevalent.
*ALWAYS disinfect hotel room TV remote controls!

This is one of those situations where personal accountability, each individual doing their part, is vital. We all need to rise to the challenge and do the little things. Besides always practicing all of the above germ-prevention tips year round, I also produced this video:


A few closing thoughts about a possible worldwide influenza pandemic. The last major pandemic was the Hong Kong Flu in 1968. Over one million people died during that outbreak, a number that pales when compared with the 1918 Spanish flu. That outbreak had estimates between 30 and 40 million deaths, a mortality rate of 2-2.5% (WHO/History of Influenza Pandemics). Multiply that percentage by six billion and you have your worst case scenario. But we’ve come a long way since 1918. And we’ve made amazing strides in combating influenza since even 1968. Experts say that we have never been better prepared to fight a potential pandemic as we are today. A good thing.

I gave you the worse case scenario, now the best case. This may all be the WHO overreacting to a very serious flu with the potential to cause a lot worse damage than it will. In other words, all this preparation and trepidation may all be for naught. Or is it? A wise man once said:

“It is better to error on the side of caution than to get the swine flu because you forgot to wash your hands.”

Just to be on the safe side, I am taking this threat very seriously and doing all that I can to make myself and my family as germ-free as possible. You should too. Hopefully, the worse thing that comes from all this is some wrinkled hands from excessive washing. Because I don’t want to even consider anything worse than that.

Until next time…