Monday, April 27, 2009


If you are like me (and hopefully you are much smarter), your journey began with what a pandemic actually is. A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through populations across a large region; for instance a continent, or even worldwide. This is opposed to an epidemic, which just means outbreaks of an illness exceed normal expectations. An epidemic can be, and usually is highly localized. A pandemic is wide spread and capable of taking over large areas; entire countries, continents or the world. That is what we are talking about.
The CDC reports that the symptoms and transmission of the swine flu from human to human is much like seasonal flu, commonly fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It is believed to be spread between humans through coughing or sneezing of infected people and touching something with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth. Swine flu cannot be spread by pork products, since the virus is not transmitted through food. The swine flu in humans is most contagious during the first five days of the illness although some people, most commonly children, can remain contagious for up to ten days.
The swine flu is very treatable. The swine flu is susceptible to two drugs licensed in the United States, oseltamivir and zanamivir. There is no danger of a shortage of these drugs. The national stockpile of antiviral drugs are being activated and should be fully deployed by May 3.
So, what should we do?
1. Wash your hands often, in hot soapy water, and for the amount of time it takes you to sing "Happy Birthday" twice (15-20 seconds).
2. Get enough sleep. This means slightly different things to different people, but try to get 8 hours of good rest each night to keep your immune system in top flu-fighting shape.
3. Keep hydrated with 8-10 8-oz. glasses of water each day to flush toxins from your system and maintain good moisture and mucous production in your sinuses.
4. Be vigilant of surfaces. This is as much a mindfulness exercise as anything else. Be aware of what public surfaces you touch, when you've shaken hands with someone, or when you're using something like a pen that others have recently used--and don't touch your face until you've had a chance to wash your hands.
5. Know when to get help. Swine flu can look like regular flu, so don't feel like you necessarily are infected if you're exhibiting flu-like symptoms. But do go to your doctor if you live in an area where there are documented cases, or if your symptoms are severe.

You should not panic, just be smart about it. You should also know that the U.S. government on Sunday declared the flu strain a public health emergency. No American deaths have been reported and most affected by the virus had light symptoms, and were recovering fast. But it has popped up in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California as well as Canada and Europe, raising fears of a pandemic.
President Barack Obama said he was monitoring the situation while bad news piled up from southern neighbor Mexico, where up to 149 people have died and more than 1,600 have been infected by the never-before-seen virus. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said more than 100 sick students at a high school in Queens were being tested and that 45 were confirmed or likely cases of swine flu. A first case was confirmed in northern California, where a student was found with the virus at a school in a Sacramento suburb. The school was closed. Ten other cases have been confirmed in southern California close to Mexico's border. Texas, meanwhile, confirmed a third case of swine flu near San Antonio. All three cases involve students at the same school, and Texas officials have closed 14 area schools in an attempt to contain it.
Needless to say, precautions should be taken if you live in these states especially, or if you have younger children, older adults at home, or any loved one susceptable to respiratory ailments, or have pre-exsisting respiratory conditions.

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