Today I would like to comment on what is going on in Mexico and, by now, several other countries, including Spain, the UK and Germany. I am concerned mainly about my family in the U.S. and my buddy Sherlock and her husband (currently in southern California), but my thoughts are also with those of you who live in the affected areas.
According to the reports I have read, the main symptoms of this new strain of the influenza virus are: coughing, sore throat, aches, fever, chills, general malaise and then, after about a week, respiratory problems. Can we take any precautions? Sure we can. Let’s have a look at a few of the standard flu season recommendations (sorry if I forget anything)…
Flu viruses can survive up to two hours (or even more!) on surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, phones, toys, shopping cart handles and computer keyboards. I read that these dangerous buggers live longer on plastic, metal or wood surfaces (i.e., non porous) than they do on fabrics, skin or paper. Based on that bit of information, here is a suggestion list:
avoid shaking hands with people.
don’t cough or sneeze into your hands (never!) but rather onto your sleeve.
never touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless you have washed your hands. Speaking of which…
the most important thing is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after returning home from an errand or whatnot.
Some time ago, I read a very useful suggestion posted by a myeloma list member: as you wash your hands, sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself. That silly little song lasts exactly the amount of time recommended for a thorough hand-washing. I have been using this technique for quite some time, now, regardless of the season: “Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday dear meeeee, Happy Birthday to meeee, and Many moreeeeee.” Depending on my mood, I sing it (to myself) in Italian, too…since the language is irrelevant, of course.
Italy is not an at-risk country (thus far), so I am not concerned for myself or Stefano. Hmmm, a thought just occurred to me…I haven’t had any tests now in about six months and am finally running out of my feverfew pill supply. For the past several weeks I had been planning to go up to the hospital for my tests…but every time I decided on a particular day, something happened, and I had to postpone. Well, I guess I had better go have my tests done before the virus reaches Italy (as it may or may not). Okay, off to the hospital next week. I will wear a mask…just to be on the safe side.
In conclusion, all I can say to all of you who are currently in areas at risk is: please be careful, stay informed (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_swine_flu_outbreak), wash your hands, laugh to enhance your immunity and, above all, please stay well!