Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu~Are We ready?

We are sitting on the edge of a deadly flu pandemic, and yet the US seems ill prepared.

The news to date has been focusing on how many cases have been verified...and don't panic. Enough time has elapsed that kids returning from spring break in Mexico have had a chance to not only become ill, but also to infect parents and classmates. Yet the focus is primarily on tourists returning from Mexico-and reports show that the action has been limited to informational flyers being handed out to folks returning on those flights.

"Cover your cough", "Wash your hands frequently".

I bought a bottle of hand sanitizer last fall, which has permanent residence in the car. Whenever we exit a public place, we all use a squirt of the alcohol based germ killer. But what about the shopping bags I touched when putting them into the car, what about all the packaged product that has been sitting on shelves in full cough radius?

Our latest trip to the local Megalo mart on Sunday I was especially vigilant. I caught two people coughing in the store-the first, a man, was walking rapidly down a main aisle,* cough, cough*, making no attempt to cover his cough.

The second, a woman in the same shoe aisle as ourselves, came coughing and spewing straight for us. We fell over ourselves getting out of that part of the store.

Then we were in the dairy section, and I had an enormous sneeze overtake me in the yogurt section. I had several people within feet of me as I unleashed the beast into the crook of my clothed elbow -as I turned away and crouched down so that any escaping blast headed towards the floor, away from the shelves of product and bystanders.

"Here I am bitching about people coughing and I let rip this huge sneeze," I say, hopefully audible to the rapidly retreating backs of my fellow shoppers.

Our last purchase was two beautiful pounds of strawberries. It is only after we are home that I realize that they came from a part of California where confirmed cases of swine flu have been reported. Uh-oh. If one of the , most likely Mexican, field workers was infected and coughed, sneezed, or dripped sweat on the berries, would we get sick? Should I throw them out? How paranoid am I getting about this?

I settled for washing them twice in copious quanitites of cold water, and then de-stemmed them and sliced them and poured so much sugar on them I could hardly believe myself. I remembered reading somewhere that sugar has antiseptic qualities. But yeastie beasties LOVE sugar...what about viruses? Sugar, as with salt, can cause cells to lyse, or literally explode. That is why I put it on the strawberries-it draws a lot of juice out of them, perfect for pouring on sponge cake.

But I recall from Microbiology that virus have a sort of armor, and attach themselves to the host cell, injecting it to make it a host for more virus.


Maybe that is why the government is doing so little about this. If a killer virus is truly on the loose, we are all screwed. Unless you have a bomb shelter with two years supply of survival gear and lock down in time. Ha.

By the way, the stsrawberries were pretty good. A bit sweet maybe.... :D

Excuse me while I go sneeze.

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