Just yesterday, about 140 students in a Milwaukee, USA school were sent home and the school was closed, because most of the students, and some of the staff were suffering with symptoms of the dreaded bug. Several schools in the area have closed down, some with confirmed cases of the H1N1 Swine Flu, and in some of those instances, some children have been hospitalized with the H1N1 Swine Flu virus.
Local medical officers of health have publicly said that they believe all the infections are H1N1 Swine Flu, as they haven’t seen any outbreaks of other less severe flues in the area. They have collected samples and are running lab tests prior to confirming each infected site, but are leaning towards the H1N1 strain of flu.
Also yesterday, American Congressman Greg Walden (Republican) confirmed earlier reports that he has been diagnosed with the H1N1 Swine Flu. Walden sent a one-line message (commonly called a “tweet”) on the online micro blogging site Twitter.com this past Monday saying he had just arrived home from the doctor’s office with the diagnoses, and that he was going into “seclusion for a while.”
Hitting closer to home, here in Ontario Canada, a turkey farm was quarantined after it became clear the turkeys were infected with the H1N1 Swine Flu.
This is of particular concern, as the virus can further mutate inside a turkey, and then re-infect a person, creating a monster combination Swine/Turkey variant of the virus, which may be even harder for human beings to overcome.
Medical experts across the globe have been predicting a rise in the H1N1 Swine Flu – many suggesting the winter holiday season around Christmas and New Year’s as the timeframe. But it appears Christmas has come early for the virus, as it is making a comeback now.
Some are even going so bold as to not shake another person’s hands, for fear of catching the virus. Although proper hand washing techniques can shave off most colds and flu, it’ll take a lot more than avoiding a handshake to prevent catching the virus.
When a pandemic strikes, everything and everyone is a potential threat – even from the most innocuous everyday things.
Forgot to bring lunch to the office? Not an uncommon occurrence, so you figure you’ll do what many (including myself) do in times of hunger – go out for lunch.
Problem is, no matter how well you wash your hands, if the people preparing or serving you your food are infected with the H1N1 Swine Flu, then you stand a greater chance of coming down with the virus too. And in low paying (often minimum wage) jobs such as in food services industries, people will often work regardless of how sick they are, because they need the money.
The same is true for another part of our food supply chain – grocery stores. Those apples may look perfect shining under the grocery store lights, but if the store employee who put them on the shelf in the first place was sick with the H1N1 Swine Flu, guess what? Yes, you too can catch the flu.
That’s the whole nature of a pandemic – it is when a disease spreads so easily from person to person, no matter how many precautions are taken, the odds are greater that most will eventually contract the illness.
You can minimize the impact of the illness if and when you do catch it. That’s what the flu shot is for, and it doesn’t hurt to take multivitamins to strengthen your immune system, and help you fight off colds and flu faster.
So the lesson here is simple – wash your hands, lock your doors and windows – or wait that’s advice for something else.
Wash your hands often, sneeze and cough into your sleeve (not your hands) to avoid spreading germs and get your flu and H1N1 Swine Flu shots when they become available in your area.