Swine flu threat more than just headline news

The World Health Organization is on the cusp of declaring swine flu a full-fledged pandemic.
The threat is one that should be taken very seriously, even though to date only one death, of a young Mexican boy in Texas, has been attributed to the virus in the United States and the number of cases reported here is minuscule in comparison to our population.
The worldwide flu pandemic of 1918 is a grim reminder of what can occur. Then, albeit before many of today’s health protocols were developed, 50 million people died worldwide, including 675,000 in the U.S.
That “flu pandemic” strikes fear in the hearts of health care experts comes not only from the statistics of 1918, but also from the fact that a virus of this nature, with no established vaccine available for preventive care, can spread unbridled among populations in societies as mobile as today’s.
Locally, Pam Beasley, Allen County Emergency Management director, is keeping close watch on what is occurring here and in all of Kansas through contacts with Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Beasley intends to post information regularly on the sheriff’s department Web site. The information is available at allencosheriff.org by clicking on the emergency management tab.
As with any influenza virus, people are encouraged to take responsibility for keeping themselves out of harm’s way. Chances of infection are reduced by doing these things:
— Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
— Stay home when you are ill to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.
— Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Properly dispose of used tissues.
— Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.
Since the virus has been most prevalent in Mexico, and the lion’s share of deaths have occurred there, consideration should be given the virus when coming into contact with people who recently have traveled to that country. The recommendation is to delay non-essential trips to Mexico.
With attention that has been focused on the virus, it seems unlikely that an outbreak of great significant will occur, or if one does that reaction will be swift and comprehensive. Even so, we all should keep ourselves aware and live within good and proper health restrains, just as we always should.

— Bob Johnson