If the truth be known … before six months ago, I thought pandemics were only found in third world countries.

I mean … this is the United States of America isn’t it?? And, as The Star Spangled Banner so eloquently states: 'O'er the land of the free and the home of the braves (play ball!!!). How much more American can you get than that????

'Land of the free’ to me means free from all the un-pleasantries you see and read about in other countries. Sickness, droughts, hunger, and disease.

My thinking was - er .. eh ... is - we have all those fancy laboratories and pharmaceuticals companies over here.  We are the land of the 'GERM' free.

And then it happened… April 2009 – headlines read, “Outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico”. This intrigued me – as with all third world countries catastrophes – but I was on the inside looking out.  And we were talking pigs – okay swine.  I live neither by a farm or zoo - I'm safe.

I continued to watched on TV, as we all did, as the Mexican government closed down most of their public and private offices to try to contain the spread. Dishing out surgical masks and hand sanitizers like lollipops at a bank teller's window.

Flash forward two months. Now the virus (yes virus and flu are one and the same) has spread globally (around the world). The World Health Organization (WHO – not to be confused with The Who – the English rock band) declared the outbreak to be a pandemic.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the word pandemic: “an epidemic of infectious disease that is spread through human populations across a large region; for instance a continent, or even worldwide”.

Gulp. Worldwide???

By August 2009, four months after the news first hit, we already had a worldwide pandemic. That included the United States of America by the way. Transmission is human-to-human through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza or by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching our mouth or nose.

Because we are a politically correct nation, and because the pigs were getting a royal ‘tude”, the virus was soon renamed - H1N1 virus. So scientific, huh?

So what do we do to protect ourselves from the spread of contagious disease? Well the first thing is to just spread some basic information. Insist that everyone around you cover their nose and mouth and cough or sneeze into their sleeves, for starters. (I know it congers up snotty sleeves to me too).

Next, wash your own hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze (might want to take a moment and wipe off your sleeve as well), or if you are around people who are doing so. Just touching the desk of a co-worker who is sick- can make you sick if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with that hand. Also, carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it as much as possible when out of the reach of soap and water.

Use disinfectants on frequently touched surfaces, which is, anywhere there are people. Bathrooms, kitchens. snack machines, restaurant tables, chairs, railings, doors handles, elevator buttons, door knobs, get the gist? Everything.

Just so you know the virus can live on hard surfaces for at least several hours and possibly more than a day. Infected people can infect others beginning one day before their symptoms start and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

You’re probably asking, “can I just go and get some Tamiflu or Relenza?” Unfortunately, nope. These are for treatment of the virus, not the prevention of it. Also they need to be prescribed by a healthcare provider and without the flu you ain’t getting it.

One thing I've been using and you may consider - if you can find it is Sambulco - black elderberry.  Helps boost your immune system.

Stay Safe. - Just sayin'.

- Survivor Jane





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