Lessons from the pandemic

Published 10:20 pm Monday, June 22, 2009

After months of hype, swine flu has finally found its way into Suffolk. Two children from one family and an unrelated adult all have been diagnosed with the illness that has swept across the globe. The good news is that all are doing well and can expect a complete recovery.

In the initial days of the swine flu pandemic, there were fears that the flu could turn into a deadly, untreatable modern-day plague. In this case, those fears now appear to have been unfounded. Swine flu has proved to be fatal for some of its victims, but the vast majority recover fully and without long-term consequences.

There are, however, lessons to be learned from the outbreak, and most of them turn out to be of the common-sense variety.


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Wash your hands frequently. If you’re sick, especially with a fever, stay home from work. If your kids are sick, keep them home from school or other public places. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Cover you mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Drink plenty of fluids. Keep in touch with your doctor.

And, most important: Don’t panic at the first sign of sniffles.

In any given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36,000 people die from seasonal flu, as opposed to swine flu. Swine flu may have been instrumental in reminding Americans about the dangers of viral infections, but it turns out that the lessons we’ve learned in fighting this pandemic are also vital for staying flu-free during the annual flu season.

They’re old lessons that most of us learned in elementary school, but it never hurts to get a refresher course.