EDITORIAL

Minimizing Risk from the Swine Flu Pandemic

s we go to press, the U.S. has declared a Public Health Emergency (April 26) in the wake of an outbreak of a new hybrid swine flu that is threatening to become a pandemic.

The new flu was first detected in Mexico, which—like China—is a perfect breeding place for hybrid flu, with ducks or chickens, pigs, and humans on the same farms, with poor sanitation, and with produce that is taken to cities with high population densities.

Avoid public places, including theaters, restaurants, and crowds of any sort. Bear in mind that hand-to-mouth transmission of the virus is more contagious than aerosol transmission. If you can help it, until the risk of a pandemic is over, stay out of all cities. Avoid places with multifamily dwellings such as apartment buildings and areas of high population density—the probability of an epidemic increases with the square of the population density. Avoid places that attract travelers like resorts, casinos, museums, plays, concerts, hotels and motels. Wash your hands when you return home.

Avoid travel by airplane, bus, subway, taxi, or train. The only safe way to travel is via your own personal automobile.

Do your shopping in the morning when there are as few people in the stores as possible, make as few shopping trips as possible, and visit as few stores as possible for as short a time as possible. Wash your hands afterward.

Have a supply of hospital or EMT antiviral hand wipes in your car, and use them if there is an outbreak near you. Do NOT use them when there is no outbreak; you don't want to drive the selection of antibiotic-resistant skin bacteria.

Open your mail and discard the envelopes, then wash your hands before reading the contents (which will have been exposed to far fewer people).

If, by the time you read this (it will go out in advance by e-mail to those who have provided us with early-warning notification access) the pandemic risk has abated, consider this a fire drill. We will be providing additional information about improving immune function and increasing your chances of staying on top, no matter how bad things get. Please call if you haven’t gotten our e-mail.

Live long and prosper,

Will Block

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