Friday, October 27, 2006

Don't take flu home for the holidays

It's autumn. Time to put together the perfect Halloween costume, buy those plane tickets for Thanksgiving and start saving your pennies for the holiday shopping spree. So make room for candy corn, mashed potatoes... and oh, the flu.

Sounds like a pretty unwelcome house guest, right? Well, the flu doesn't usually make reservations. Much of the time, the nasty bug simply takes advantage of our forgetfulness and, yes, laziness. In other words, Mr. Forgets-to-Wash-His-Hands meets Ms. Influenza, and BAM!, here comes runny noses, sweaty fevers and sleepless nights.

The best was to avoid seasonal flu is by getting a flu shot, which is highly recommended. However, there's a number of other things you can do to protect yourself. Here's a few tips:

1. Call in sick: Your co-workers will thank you
Most of us have been guilty of going to work or school when we've been sick because of an upcoming important deadline or a big test. However, we are not setting the best example and, in fact, we could be causing more harm than good by giving the flu to a co-worker. Staying home when you are sick will be especially important if and when a flu pandemic or an outbreak of another infectious disease occurs, so we should all take this opportunity to practice.

How long do you need to stay at home? According to our top health officials, most healthy adults may be able to get others sick a day before they even start showing symptoms and up to five days after becoming sick. So, if you are not feeling well, be a thoughtful co-workers and stay home. Curling up in front of your TV or with a good book isn't the worst way to spend a day or two, right?

2. Rub a dub dub . . . wash your hands!
Wash your hands often, long enough and with warm water and soap. Wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song all the way through twice (about 20 seconds). If it helps, don't be afraid to sing aloud in the bathroom or kitchen! For more tips on handwashing, visit http://getreadyforflu.blogspot.com/2006/08/for-pandemic-flu-prevention-best.html.

3. Say it, don't spray it
Why is covering your cough or sneeze so important? Because people with the flu can easily pass it along to others. Also, people can catch the flu by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouths or noses. It's best to protect yourself and others, so cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

By getting a flu shot and following these tips, there's a much better chance that you will be sharing your holidays with pumpkins and eggnog instead of tissues and cold medicine.

3 comments:

Goju said...

Pandemic Flu or Panflu is very serious. Do not take it lightly. Presently, in Indonesia, the WHO has confirmed limited Human to Human transmission. The death rate in Indonesia is presently about 79% in humans. and Worldwide, 80% of those infected are under 29 years old.

H5N1, the virus responsible for this is now endemic in the birds in Indonesia and constantly mutating, crossing the species barrier and infecting cats, dogs, pigs and other mammals including Humans.

The WHO, CDC, leading virologists and world governments have all said that it is a matter of when, not if, another pandemic will occur. H5N1 is the most likely virus to mutate into a pandemic strain, and when it does, it will travel the world's airlines and be everywhere in weeks.

A pandemic wave typically lasts between 8-12 weeks in a community. There are studies and projections that hospitals will be overwhelmed. There will be food shortages and very possibly water and power disruptions. In the Northern states, heat will be a major problem.

There is no vaccine and not enough anti viral medication to go around for everyone.

The only thing you can do is "duck" beneath the wave and let it pass over you. To do that you will need at least 3 months of food, water, meds and heat supplies.

If you do not prepare now, it will be too late once the Pandemic begins and you will be competing for the remaining food left in the supply chains.

If you are a Public Health Officer in charge of a town or community, I beg you to please take these warnings seriously and start NOW to prepare your first responders and the residents who you have sworn to protect in order to survive the coming Pandemic.

Anonymous said...

The whole purpose of preparing for pandemic flu early on is to minimize the amount of panicking that will take place when it finally happens. It's common knowledge now that there likely won't be enough vaccine and antivirals to go around, even if we have a perfected and expedited vaccine manufacturing process. We'll still be without a vaccine for 4 or so months. So, outside of stockpiling food and water, our preparedness activities should focus on preventative activities that don't rely on drugs, like handwashing, school closures and the like.

We also have to look at how the most vulnerable in our society will be able to prepare for a pandemic of influenza. They are not going to be able to afford stockpiling the aforementioned three months of food and water. As a start, though, we should start urging people to take steps to stock up on two weeks worth of food and water. As I live in an apartment and have little storage, this has been a very difficult feat for me, to be able to have 28,000 calories worth of non-perishable food, and store 14 gallons of water.

Outside of the storage space issue, how are vulnerable populations going to be able to afford to stockpile food and water? Maybe the federal government should give them some kind of assistance, like a tax credit or something like they were going to do for gasoline?

Goju said...

I attended a conference in NYC in Sept 06 held at the NBC TV studios in Midtown. The conference was focused on business preparedness. I went to hear Dr. David Nabbarro, UN point man for the worlds fight against Panflu. I had the unbelievable luck to catch him when he came into the studio. We spent about 10 minutes discussing H5N1 and his feelings about where it is going... he is very worried... he said "we have G-d given time" to prepare for a devastating pandemic. "It is coming" he said.

I also spoke with the emergency manager for Hess Oil. She said they were very aware what would happen if the oil stopped... drilling, refining, storage and shipping... It is their number one priority... they feel they can keep oil flowing down to the regional storage facilities... after that is is up to the local suppliers to get it out to the local stations... needless to say, the oil companies are not confident that will happen... hence, they are anticipating that there may be no oil or gas... that means no food farmed, processed, packaged nor delivered. That means water treatment plants may run out of chlorine within 5 days. That means power plants may run out of fuel within a month. That means no heat in the Northern states.

The energy industry put out a paper months ago saying that they cannot function with more than 30% of their workers out.

The Gov is expecting 40-60% worker outages.

Hence another good reason to prepare your home with 3 months of supplies... there may not be any in the stores to buy... if you can get to them.

There is also language in the State Pandemic plans for ending civil liberties - isolating people, towns, cities in the event of an outbreak of severe pandemic flu... even more reason to prepare for 3 months.