My dear readers – Let me make this perfectly clear.
H1N1 (“swine flu”) is NOT contracted from eating pork. It IS, however, contracted in an airborne droplet manner as well as hand-to-mouth/eyes/nose manner.
Vice President Biden was right. To avoid contagion, to reduce the incidence of exposure to this rather nasty virus, stay away from crowds and closely enclosed spaces. So avoiding bus, train and airline travel is correct – not a “gaffe.”
We are all too anxious to be politically correct and avoid affecting the various forms of the travel industry. It makes much more sense to avoid potential exposure than to risk contracting H1N1. Any advice to the contrary is counterproductive.
During the 1918-1919 pandemic, the ONLY place that escaped the “Spanish flu” was a military base located on the island of Yerba Buena off the coast of California. Very interesting read. It simply underscores that if you aren’t exposed to the disease, you won’t get it.
Where are you most likely to encounter the H1N1 virus? Crowded places, enclosed places with people traveling from one infected place to another. One of the “nightmares” of public health speculation is the person with pneumonic plague traveling via mass transit or airline. Pandemic influenza is another potential public health nightmare.
Will H1N1 become as virulent as “Spanish influenza” did in 1918? We don’t know as yet. Frankly, however, the potential is there. Why take the risk? For about 2 years, we can reduce our travel, reduce our outside entertainment (aren’t you glad you have TV and the internet??), and even reduce our other “running around town” activities.
I hope that you, gentle readers, have more sense than to let the media determine your reactions to this potential danger.
As I wrote to an nurse-friend, some people are panicking. Needlessly. Others are disregarding all common sense.
This is just the beginning. People probably are going to be screaming and rioting in the streets at some point.
We need to make sure we keep our messages very simple and very concrete.
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Wash your hands with dial AND use the Purell stuff
- IF you develop flu symptoms: high fever (over 102) AND aching AND coughing AND vomiting AND diarrhea, contact your physician – be seen for swabs of nose, and throat, and blood draw. ONLY then will you (maybe) get Tamiflu or Relenza.
- EVEN with the antivirals, you will still have flu, you will just be a little less miserable and it will last a few days less.
- Lots of fluids: gatorade, juices, clear beef and chicken broth, tea, water, and coca cola for nausea & vomiting. An ice pack may help bringing fever down.
- Tylenol / ibuprophen for fever and aches.
- Shower each day in tepid water (not hot, not cold) – but only with another person in the house for safety (to rinse sweat off, and reduce bacterial skin count).
- Have lots of tissues, and a place to discard them safely.
- If caring for someone with flu, wear an N95 mask and latex or vinyl gloves anytime you are close to (within 6 feet of) him, and discard them in a heavy plastic bag on your way out of the sickroom. Each day, tie up the bag tightly, label with red lettering “BIOHAZARD” and put out in the garbage. There will be ways to dispose of this as the pandemic progresses.
Some References and Links:
- Nonpharmaceutical Influenza Mitigation Strategies, 1918-1920 Pandemic: The Study
- Quarantine for pandemic influenza control at the borders of small island nations
- H1N1 Flu