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Blame Sloppy Hygiene For H1N1, Not The Pigs

April 30, 2009


Its all about HYGIENE.  First of all there are polar opposite reactions to the spread of this communicable virus.  Those who panic and those who shrug it off as an over reaction to a yearly flu concern, or a distraction from other political intrigues.  We have become suspicious of those distractions,  where is Paris Hilton when you need her?  Not all people will have the same level of symptoms.  There are always the more vulnerable like elderly and very young.  Most vulnerable are those who already have poor immune systems caused by other conditions.  Everyone is a target for an aggressive virus, but not everyone can tolerate the health hit.

There will be radicals who will take this opportunity to point fingers and lay blame on their favorite scape goat, like immigrants.  These same radicals refuse to see the big picture where they are an active participant spreading what cannot be seen.  The pig target is inadvertent, there is an historical reference regarding pig virus components that has become the standard reference; Swine Flu.  Worldwide response to the word ‘swine’ is off target, Pigs are the myth because they are convenient because they contribute a small ingredient to a communicable virus. The other components are lost in the panic.

What is Epidemiology?  Thanks to a previous commenter,  he thinks he caught the influenza at a pharmacy while walking down the cold and flu and allergy aisle, that thought hit home.  Where are you most at risk?  I think the places a sick person would naturally go would be a pharmacy or grocery store medicine aisle.  You walk right in to any vapor cloud left behind by the person in front of you.  Stores can’t prevent this, but you can.  Don’t crowd other people.  Don’t intrude on other’s air space.  Don’t fondle items behind someone who is coughing, sneezing or sickly.  Then there are the restaurants and fast food places that may have employees who don’t even know they are sick.

Workplace Questions

… employers should be guided in their relationship with their employees not only by federal employment law, but by their own employee handbooks, manuals, and contracts (including bargaining agreements), and by any applicable state or local laws.

Not all of the employment laws referenced apply to all employers or all employees, particularly state and local government agencies.  For information on whether a particular employer or employee is covered by a law, please use the links provided for more detailed information.  This information is not intended for federal agencies or federal employees — they should contact the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for guidance.

Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits

1 Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2 Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3 Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.germstopper_girl_color_lg

4 Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.

5 Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6 Practice other good health habits.

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Stopping the Spread of Germs at Work

Personal hygiene best defence against swine flu

Personal hygiene, he said, must include frequent hand washing as well as properly covering one’s mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing. With flu-like symptoms, medical help should immediately be sought, he added.

‘Surveillance becomes ineffective when you come across people passing through the ‘window period’. This is the length of time after infection that it takes for a person to develop specific symptoms of the disease. In case of swine flu, the incubation period of the virus is one to four days. So, it is not possible to have 100 per cent effective checks at entry points.’

Giving some basic facts, Dr Shahana Urooj, dean of the science faculty, said that swine flu – a respiratory disease – was a new strain of H1N1, which was an assortment of avian, swine and human genetic material.

‘The WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern and the virus has already travelled from Mexico to many other countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Israel, Spain and parts of Asia. It has claimed 152 lives so far in Mexico.’

‘Border controls do not work. Screening doesn’t work,’ WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said in Geneva.

‘If a person has been exposed or infected… the person might not be symptomatic at the airport,’ he said. ‘We learn as we go on. SARS was a huge learning experience for all of us.’ The WHO raised its flu pandemic alert level from three to four on Monday night — signalling a ‘significant increase in the risk of a pandemic.’ Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general for health, security and the environment, said that given the widespread nature of the virus, all corners of the world are at potential risk.

‘I think that in this age of global travel, where people move around in airplanes so quickly, there is no region to which this virus could not spread,’ Fukuda said.

The outbreak was too ‘widespread to make containment a feasible’ strategy, he added.


Myth or fact:
– An office keyboard has more bacteria on it than the average toilet seat.
– Women spread more germs than men do.
We have the answers to those – and more work-hygiene facts you wish you’d never heard about.

All of this is according to Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona professor of microbiology who studies such things.

First, professor Gerba swears on a stack of toilet paper that the two contentions – about keyboards and women – are fact.

The typical keyboard is a bouilliabaisse of bacteria because (a) people’s hands tend to have a lot of microscopic scuzz on them and (b) they catch food debris from those of us who hunch and munch over the keyboards (and you know who you are), which hardly ever get a good cleaning.

As for the women-as-germ-spreaders, that’s a good thing, sort of. Women generally have a healthier diet than men. Thus, the ladies tend to store apples, bananas and other biodegradable, healthful food at and in their desks. Men go for less nutritious, less germy junk food, such as gum or potato chips.

What to do?
What to do to protect yourself, besides work in a bubble?

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, and use a hand sanitizer or wipes. But don’t use the sanitizers alone. You need soap and water to penetrate the skin and clean deeply.
  • Don’t touch your face or mouth while at the keyboard. One study showed people, on average, touch the face area 18 times an hour. That represents 18 free trips for Mr. Bacteria.
  • Don’t shake hands. That can be awkward, especially if the company CEO offers a paw. Professor Gerba’s advice: Fib. Say that you have a cold and don’t want to spread it.

And take this last factoid for what it’s worth. Gerba’s study of offices in New York, San Francisco and Tucson, AZ, found that teachers’ offices had by far the highest levels of germs per square inch, nearly three times as much as bankers, the next most contaminated professionals. Lawyers had the least. (Provide your own punchline.)

How long is the incubation period for swine flu?

Initially it was believed that the incubation period for the Swine Flu is pretty short; 24 to 48 hours. However there are some medical reports suggesting that 5 to 7 days is more normal. Infected people may be able to pass on the flu to someone else (“shed virus”) before they know they are sick, while they are sick, and for varying time periods after feeling well again.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“The typical incubation period for influenza is 1–4 days (average: 2 days). Adults shed influenza virus from the day before symptoms begin through 5–10 days after illness onset. However, the amount of virus shed, and presumably infectivity, decreases rapidly by 3–5 days after onset in an experimental human infection model. Young children also might shed virus several days before illness onset, and children can be infectious for 10 or more days after onset of symptoms. Severely immunocompromised persons can shed virus for weeks or months.”

“Uncomplicated influenza illness typically resolves after 3–7 days for the majority of persons, although cough and malaise can persist for >2 weeks. However, influenza virus infections can cause primary influenza viral pneumonia; exacerbate underlying medical conditions (e.g., pulmonary or cardiac disease); lead to secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinusitis, or otitis media; or contribute to coinfections with other viral or bacterial pathogens.”

People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

Some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent hand washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces. Don’t go to public places if you have the flu symptoms.

For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

Top 5 Swine Flu Don’ts

  1. apurva permalink
    May 18, 2009 4:00 am

    Thank you for such amazing information……If you love hygiene just like me……Please check out the blog mentioned below, its really informative !!!!….. check it out m sure you’ll love it


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