Swine Flu: Simple Self-Protection Measures You Can Use NOW
I've been on this soapbox before.
There are about six things you can do to be sure you don't get the swine flu.
Three of them are WASH YOUR HANDS:
- wash your hands after blowing your nose or sneezing,
- wash your hands after shaking hands or handling shared objects (door handles, telephones, pens, etc.),
- wash your hands BEFORE touching your eyes, nose, mouth or eating.
(Washing your hands after going to the toilet I shouldn't have to remind you of, but why not take advantage of opportunity?)
The fourth thing is don't panic. The fifth and sixth things are part of the same thing: minimize your exposure.
Given what we know right now, what "minimize your exposure" means is,
- don't hang out with people who are sneezing, coughing, or exhibiting runny noses;
- don't eat food contaminated by flies or other insects; don't drink untreated water.
Apart from that, unless your ordinary job involves hi-risk activities and hands-on care with potential flu victims (if, e.g., you're a cabin crewmember on a regular roundtrip to Mexico City or Vera Cruz; or you're a teacher in a preschool or day-care with a high percentage of migrant students / parents; or you're an ER receptionist, nurse, doc, or janitor) you should be okay just taking simple common-sense precautions.
In other words, if you haven't had your flu shot (the season is November-April) get one. If you have a compromised immune system, you probably should consult your healthcare provider. If your healthcare provider's phone /fax / email is swamped (it may be), consider calling your city or state public health department. (Many will refer you to their websites. In the spirit of community solidarity, this former public health worker will provide you with two websites: and .
The cases confirmed in Texas fell in a region other than the one I used to work for; having spent the time since last Thursday in El Paso (and eating out for every meal, as well as working in a couple hospital buildings while there) I can say with assurance I didn't see or hear any evidence of panic on the ground. But I was in El Paso; Mexico City, I'm reminded, is as distant from Ciudad Juarez as Austin is from Lubbock.