The recent outbreak of swine flu and its rapid spread from Mexico into the US and other countries has caused many of our community members to ask what I think about the dangers of this new disease and the risk it poses to the population at large?
Here's what I know and think about it.
Swine flu is not a new type of flu. It is a known and recognized flu virus that causes pigs to suffer with symptoms similar to those that affect us humans when we get the flu. Most pigs just get over it the same way most of us get over the flu even if we are not immunized against it.
Transmission of the swine flu from pigs to humans occurs only rarely and it happens by droplet transmission. That means you have to be in contact with a pig who has the flu and sneezes on you. That situation is a very rare occurrence. But once humans do catch the swine flu from the pig, the disease spreads because humans transmit it to other humans much faster than the pigs do.
Swine flu is like other flu. It is characterized by fever, malaise, generalized pains and aches, sneezing. Runny nose, sore throat and occasionally diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pains. Overall the duration of the swine flu is the same as other flu 5-7 days.
Humans can protect themselves and everyone else from spreading the swine flu the same way we can protect ourselves from spreading communicable diseases in general.
To protect yourself from the swine flu you need to take the same measures you take to maintain a hygienic and clean lifestyle that support your immune system's optimal function: eat healthy foods, do not drink alcohol or other immune depressants, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, exercise regularly, wash your hands frequently, do not come into contact with people who are sick and stay away from other people when you are sick. Common sense goes a long way and saves everyone who practices it.
A little perspective on the swine flu can help us learn not to react to the sensationalism associated with it:
1. In 2008- 37,313 people died in car crashes in the US.
2. More than 20,000 people die of the common flu in the US yearly in spite of flu immunization
3. There are approximately 15,000 murders in the US every year.
4. On the average 90 people die of lightening every year
5. Remember Anthrax? In 2001 we were all scared to death by it and 5 people actually died from the disease. I wonder how many died with heart attacks and strokes caused by the fear of Anthrax?
I am not being cavalier or trying to make light of a source of fear and confusion. I just want you to be smart and put things into perspective. Good attitude and good perspective are great tools for survival.