Sunday, May 3, 2009

Now everyone just remain calm...

So one TV station states that there is a "possible" case of the H1N1 flu virus (aka the Swine flu) in nearby Clay County while another declares it "probable." As usually happens I am sure that the kerfuffle over this virus will likely be much worse than the actual effects when all is said and done. But that doesn't mean that one shouldn't take reasonable precautions either, especially folks who are particularly vulnerable like very small children and older adults. Hand washing is always good practice and not just the perfunctory run the fingers under the faucet and give 'em a swipe with the hand towel. I remember learning in epidemiology classes at UNF that the majority of viral and bacterial illnesses we contract could be avoided with routine, effectual hand washing. (You could always tell which students were taking epi - they were the obsessive hand washers who avoided touching the restroom door handles at all costs.) Effectual handwashing means using soap and scrubbing your hands for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself, rinsing and drying well, turning off the faucet with your towel, not your wet hands. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good substitute when you don't have access to soap and running water but you have to use enough of it and again, keep on rubbing until it dries.

Most of the proscribed precautions are just more common sense - cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (and then throw it away), avoid crowded places when possible, don't leave home if you aren't feeling well... nothing you didn't already know, really. If you do develop flu-like symptoms see your doctor, the anti-viral drugs available are supposed to work very well if you get them started soon enough. And don't let the "swine flu willies" paranoia get hold of you; keep up with reputable information sources like the CDC's website and you'll be less likely to get carried away by the media hype.

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