Several countries world-wide have numerous suspect cases reported of the new swine flu virus, from as far apart as Canada, France, Hong Kong, Israel and New Zealand. Numerous deaths have been reported in Mexico.
Caused by type A influenza Swine flu, is a respiratory disease. Studies have shown that the swine flu H1N1 is common throughout pig populations worldwide, with 25% of all animals displaying antibody evidence of having the disease. These are scary facts.
Swine flu viruses do not usually affect human beings. However, the current swine flu has a deadly mixture of a gene segment from bird flu, a segment from human flu, plus two genes from pig flu. Pigs are known to be the world's best 'mixing bowls'. This totally unknown virus is causing extreme concern, as humans have no immunity to the disease.
You cannot catch Swine flu through eating pork products, however human-to-human infections are taking place, even without the victims being exposed to animals that are diseased.
Here are a few simple precautions you need to take to provide self-protection against the threat of a global pandemic:
- Always cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Make sure you dispose of the tissue in a rubbish bin immediately. Have a mask nearby if anyone sneezes or coughs close to you.
Just a single sneeze will propel 100,000 droplets into the air, racing at approximately 90 mph, descending onto door knobs, elevator buttons, ATM and computer keypads, escalator railings and grocery cart handles. British researchers have revealed, that in a subway train at rush hour, as many as 10 percent of all commuters may be contaminated with the spray and residue from just one sneeze. Up to 150 commuters could be infected by one uncovered sneeze, or cough. The stream of air forced by from a cough, travels at speeds nearing 600 mph.
- Always wash your hands frequently, for up to 20 seconds, with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Always wash your hands thoroughly prior to eating and whenever possible do not eat with your hands.
It is estimated over 80% of all infections are spread by hands. If you are not able to wash your hands, resort to using hand-sanitizers with 60% alcohol content. These are available in handy pocket size containers.
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and definitely no kissing on the cheeks.
Germs are spread more quickly through that method of transmission.
- Try to avoid contact with sick people. Isolation and evasion are your most effective protective measures.
- If you happen to get sick, stay home from work or school and limit your contact with others, so as to keep from passing the infection on.
- Keep aware and recognize any abnormal symptoms. If you are in doubt, go and seek professional advice.
- Make sure you eat well, be careful of your sleep habits and take regular exercise. Increase your daily dose of vitamin C and practice good hygiene.
It is possible to treat Swine flu. It is resistant to two of the four drugs approved for treating flu, but two new arrivals, Tamiflu and Relenza have proven to be successful.
Mexico has hundreds of industrial-scale pig facilities, known as 'confined animal feeding farms', where the hogs are packed in tight rows. Thousands of pigs are contained in indoor pens and grain-fed for the market. Breeding sows are baled-up in small metal crates where they spend most of their lives, either pregnant, or nursing a new litter of piglets.
Up to now, infected Mexican hog workers have seldom infected other people, apart for close family members.