At this point, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little hard to know whether the swine flu situation is a lot of Ã¢â‚¬Å“sound and fury signifying nothingÃ¢â‚¬Â or a very real alarm being raised about a very real threat.
Last time this sort of advanced state of health emergency was enacted -Ã¢â‚¬â€œ back in 1976 when the swine flu alarm was last raised Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it turned out to be for naught. And the more recent alarms about avian flu and mad cow and other pandemic fears also turned out Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so far Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to be rather groundless.
But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to know how the 2009 version of the swine flu state of emergency will play out.
And it may well be a very serious health threat.
So in the spirit of Ã¢â‚¬Å“forewarned is forearmedÃ¢â‚¬Â we are encouraging our readers to follow the generally good advice thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s being propagated over the airwaves and across the Internet and to do the following:
- Wash your hands. A lot. Hot water and soap. Or an alcohol-based cleanser. For at least 20 seconds. Multiple times throughout the day. And certainly after youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been out in public.
- Stay away from sick people.
- Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cover your cough or sneeze.Ã¢â‚¬Â Your mother taught you that this was the polite thing to do. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also the safe thing to do.
- Minimize your time in closed public spaces. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to be on a plane, in a movie theater or other enclosed spaces packed with numbers of people in close proximity, wear a mask. It may look strange, but until we know how real the threat of a serious swine flu outbreak is or whether we are, indeed, in danger of a swine flu pandemic, a mask is a good idea.
- If you come down with any flu symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
For more information about swine flu and more specific advice about how to best avoid exposure and illness, we recommend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page on swine flu, available at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm.
And to all the advice and guidelines out there, we would like to add our own two cents, as follows: A strong immune system is one of the best defenses against illness Ã¢â‚¬â€œ be it swine flu or otherwise. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest, avoid stress as much as possible, and if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever considered taking a health supplement to naturally boost your immune system, now might be an excellent time to add that to your healthcare regimen.
The swine flu story is still just in its beginning stages. We will continue to monitor reports, try to discern fact from fiction and truth from hype, and keep our readers informed as the story develops.
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