Swine Flu update

Good Morning! Well, it seems that we know a bit more about the Swine flu this week compared to last week.  It does not seem to be quite as contagious or deadly as originally suspected.  That being said, there are new cases every single day, and it's important that we keep ourselves healthy! Are you keeping your stress level down?  Well, you should be.  Stress can down-regulate your immune system.  Yoga, anyone?  Deep breathing?  How about a nice long walk (in the rain, for those of us here in the Pacific NW)?

Influenza can be contagious from one day before symptoms appear to 7 days after the onset of symptoms.  There are several other known strains of the flu going around right now in addition to the Swine flu.  Believe me, I've seen a LOT of people this week with the crud.  It's a bit late in the "flu season" for all this to be going around, but alas--it is.  It also happens to be high allergy season, and unfortunately this makes people more susceptible to things like the flu.  Here are some reminders from the CDC regarding contamination and cleaning to help decrease your chances of getting sick.

Contamination & Cleaning

Photo of hands and soapHow long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)? Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus? Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination? Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus? To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

Photo of cleaning suppliesWhat household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus? To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled? Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry.

Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.