Swine Flu Virus Precautions

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There are a few things you can actively do now to prevent swine flu, other than hitting refresh on the CDC website to see the latest figures and running around neurotic with anxiety.

First, wash your hands. Really!

Wash them before you prepare food, wash them before you eat food, wash them if you haven't washed them in a while. No special antibacterial soap is necessary, because the swine flu is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. Good ol' soap, water, and 15 seconds of vigorous washing will kill the virus.

The reason you need to wash your hands is because your hands come into contact with the world: door handles, shopping carts, pens. And then so many of us use those very hands to wipe our eyes, or apply makeup, or put in contact lenses. So, avoid touching any mucous membranes without washing your hands first. And wash. wash. wash.

Second, there aren't any antibiotics to take to "protect" you.

As mentioned above, swine flu is caused by a virus; antibiotics by definition only kill bacteria. Taking Cipro, or Augmentin or Zithromax won't kill the swine flu virus. It'll just lighten your wallet, give you unnecessary diarrhea, and won't do a darn thing to the swine flu virus.

Buy some face masks if it makes you feel better, but make sure you purchase them from the pharmacy, and not the hardware store. You want to make sure they prevent viruses, not sawdust.

Finally, there are antivirals that currently exist, oseltamivir and zanamivir. Unfortunately, it is not completely known whether or not they are effective against this new swine flu strain.

I must admit that I'm worried about how this current flu outbreak looks somewhat like the 1918 flu pandemic, specifically that it targeted not the young & old, as expected, but rather the young and healthy. However, it may simply be a reflection of the demographics of people who travel to Mexico.

Remember that the majority of the cases are not fatal. It's just the flu. You get muscle aches, fever, exhaustion, and a runny nose. Just don't forget to wash your hands.

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