During the past week we have heard a lot about the “Swine Flu”, now dubbed H1N1. Near paranoia gripped the public and some media for a time. Doomsayers were prognosticating this was going to be “it” for the world we know! We now know that H1N1 responds well to two of the antiviral agents, and also most people who get it get well on their own. Rationale reason seems to be setting in at this time now.
Should we just breathe a collective “Whew, that was close one,” and go on with our lives as usual? Or should we grip the edge of our seats waiting for this to get worse, or a more virulent strain to come along in the future?
The characteristics of influenza virus are:
- A sometimes dangerous viral disease, not just a bad cold
- Very contagious, being easily spread by airborne particles or contaminated objects.
- The virus enters through the eyes, nose and mouth
- It is endemic–meaning the virus is always in the population
- Certain strains a capable of causing an epidemic locally or a pandemic globally
(The Centers for Disease Control has some very useful information providing descriptions of how influenza virus are categorized, how they change, and how they are transmitted from animals to people. You can keep abreast of the current outbreak of H1N1 at the CDC’s website.)
The deadliest influenza outbreak in recorded history was 1918-1920 following WW I when it killed approximately 675,000 Americans and an estimated 50-100 million worldwide. That is more deaths in one year than the Black Plague of the middle ages. (Learn more information on the history of flu pandemics.)
Could something like this happen again? Absolutely! What can you do to prevent getting it? Here are a few PositiveChoices you can make:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick. Avoid going to work, school, and errands, if possible. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice good health habits that support your immune system. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of water, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Place your life in God’s hands. “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you… If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.” Ps. 91:2-11
Let’s start preparing now before a serious pandemic does occur.