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Monday, April 27, 2009

Prepare: Dealing with Swine Flu and Pandemics

Yikes! This time its not Avian (bird) flu, its the pig version - swine flu.

Swine flu is a virus which pigs get and is like the flu humans get. One very big problem - it can be transferred to other pigs and humans. That's not very nice.

What's worse, is humans can transfer it to other humans and it is very contagious.

The final note; Swine is flu is potentially fatal and has proven so in several cases in Mexico.

Apparently, the flu broke out in Mexico, infected at the very least several hundred people before moving across the border into the United States. [Note: some sources are saying the real estimate is thousands of cases in Mexico where it is overwhelming the health care system and being hushed up by the government].

Swine flu has some of the typical symptoms of other flu bugs. From the CDC website:

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Let's get serious: The swine flu could get out of control just like any other pandemic could. Unlike raiders or looters or riots, viruses can't be stopped with firepower and threats. Only with quarantines, personal protection equipment and dillegence can we avoid catching a bug.

First, avoid sick people. It sounds easy, but is harder than we think. For instance, avoid places with potential sick people like mega stores, sports events, school, work and travel. Airplanes are my particular nemesis during an outbreak. Sick people have a tendancy to think everyone else wants their bug and they board up stuffy nose, fever and all.

The same type of person sends their child to school with a runny nose, mile fever and aches so Mom can have her "time off". If the flu comes to your kids school, pull them as soon as possible. By the way, ask your school what the policy is regarding outbreaks. What do they do about sick children? Do they let them stay?

Next, do you have personal protection equipment? Go to the hardware store and pick up a big ole box of N95 masks. I did some time ago and keep them in my work bag, in the car and in my kids backpacks. In other countries people routinely wear masks to avoid sickness in public places. We might want to start doing the same thing in the U.S. before long.

Also get some hand sanitizer. Get the big size and some of the smaller hand sizes too. You can make hand sanitizer out of alcohol, aloe vera gel and vegetable glycerin. Wash hands frequently with soap and water especially when out in public.

It would be nice to have a doctor friend and stock up on Tamiflu, but some viruses are not affected by Tamiflu or other drugs. It is better to get some elderberry extract and supplements from the health food store. I picked up Sambucol, vitamins C, D, E and other antioxidants, echinacea and zinc. I nave been dosing myself regularly since this whole thing broke out.

Keep your home clean too. Routinely use disinfectant and bleach on all surfaces to kill viruses if they get in the house. We also strip the beds at least twice a week, wash bedding in hot water and detergent and spray the mattresses with Lysol. My wife has covers and pads for all the pillows and mattresses as well.

My kids have been trained to blow their nose with tissues and wash immediately afterward. We never use handkerchiefs but tissues which can be thrown away and disposed of. We also have the kids change their clothes and wash school clothing after they come home from school. No reason to bring anything home and into the house.

This morning before school, we told the kids to do what we do; avoid anyone with cold symptoms. Don't play with them or sit next to them in the cafeteria. Sounds harsh but its not my problem that some thoughtless mom sent her kids to school sick.

Finally, there is quarantine. If its swine flu or bird flu or whatever, are you ready to quarantine at home? What is the government declares a state of emergency and puts in place a curfew. Schools closed, non-essential businesses shut down, workers told to stay home.. Do you have cash on hand? The ability to pay bills for an extended time? What about a stockpile of food and water? Better get stocked up now if you have not already.

Here are a few great resources I found online during the avian flu scare. They are still pertinent for swine flu.


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