The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 64 cases of Swine Flu in the U.S. in California, Kansas, Ohio, New York City and Texas. The World Health Organization has raised the global pandemic alert level to Phase 4, which is characterized by confirmed person-to-person spread of an influenza virus able to cause community-level outbreaks.
This information, and subsequent news coverage has left many Americans wondering exactly how serious this threat is and what steps can be taken to avoid infection. For now, the likelihood that you, or anyone you know may be infected with Swine Flu, is small. However, there are some prevention tactics that are very simple and can increase your likelihood of not developing Swine Flu by minimizing or eliminating the likelihood of coming into contact with the virus.
“Public places are a primary concern, and caution should be used when touching public toilets, sinks, towel dispensers. The easiest way, for now, is to create a barrier by using a hand towel when touching these surfaces and then discarding it,” notes Eleanor Methot, RN, and co-founder of Southeastern Medical Supply.
Michele Fuchs, Eleanor’s daughter who is also an RN and co-founder of Southeastern, adds, “Washing your hands frequently is the best way to prevent infection. And the best way to do this is with simple soap and water. Use the old standby of singing one verse of ‘Happy Birthday’ as a guideline for how long to spread the soap through your fingers.”
“Hand sanitizers can add another layer of protection, but be sure that they contain 70% isopropyl alcohol. Some cheaper brands, found in value stores, may not have this amount and are ineffective,” she adds.
Should the pandemic escalate in the U.S. as it has in Mexico, people may begin to wear face masks in crowded, public places. This can be confusing, however, as there are a variety of masks available and some are exorbitant in cost.
“You’ll see information about respirator masks from some medical supply companies, but we don’t recommend these. For one thing, they’re very costly and they’re also not effective unless they’ve been properly fitted to the person using them. We generally only recommend these types of masks for use with homecare patients that have active TB,” notes Fuchs. Instead, she recommends a simple and less costly earloop mask.
“For people that have concerns about children, the adult earloop masks can also work if you rubber band the loops together to make them fit more tightly. Actual masks for children are limited and also expensive and this will work just as well. You can also have your children color these masks with crayons and markers to make the experience of wearing them fun,” she advises.
As always, children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to viruses as a result of underdeveloped or weakened immune systems. In these cases, it may be advisable to minimize contact with large crowds until the virus has been contained. If that’s not possible, then Methot does recommend, “washing hands frequently and using a hand sanitizer after any type of contact with foreign objects that may have been touched by others.”
Gloves are optional, but not necessary. Fuchs remarks that, “You can be wearing gloves and still touch your eyes or mouth. They’re also uncomfortable. If you follow the hand washing guidelines, it’s not necessary to wear gloves.”
Swine Flu is a respiratory illness that can spread through the coughing and sneezing, the same way any flu spreads. The symptoms are also similar to a regular flu. If you find that you have flu-like symptoms, you should stay home. If they escalate, you should see your doctor.
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Southeastern Medical Supply is a medical supply company with a comprehensive range of high quality home medical equipment and supplies meeting the needs of the medical community and its patients. For more information please visit http://www.southeasternmedicalsupply.com.
Southeastern Medical Supply and it’s sister company, Active By Choice (www.activebychoice.com) are owned and operated by Eleanor Methot and her two daughters, Celeste Methot and Michele Fuchs. Combined, these female entrepreneurs have nearly 100 years of experience in professional nursing and exercise physiology. They are available for interviews and commentary on fitness, medical products and related topics.
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Southeastern Medical Supply offers these products to aid in flu prevention: