Use common sense to stay healthy

Published 12:19 am Saturday, August 22, 2009

For several years we’ve all heard about a pandemic, which essentially means a epidemic of some sort affecting a wide area. The word has been there all along.

We’ve seen pandemics throughout history. Anyone who has moved past fifth-grade world history knows about the Black Death caused by the Oriental rat flea. Then there was the smallpox, which started in Europe and spread throughout the world by European explorers. This disease is believed to have killed a sizeable population of native Americans in the New World.

We have even seen flu pandemics. There was the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 that made about 40 percent of the world’s population sick. About 675,000 people in the U.S. died of the disease. In 1957, the Asian flu took off and affected mostly schoolchildren, young adults and pregnant women. The elderly had the highest death rates. Another wave of it developed in 1958. In both years, about 69,800 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And many of us remember the Hong Kong flu of 1968, killing 33,800 between September 1968 and 1972.

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Now we have swine flu. The government is developing vaccinations. It’s up to the individual (unless a school has required the vaccination) to take the shots.

A lot has been written about the swine flu and its danger. Some people have gone into a panic about the illness. The hype hasn’t helped either.

Most health care professionals tell us we can avoid many diseases by using a little common sense. Get plenty of rest. Wash your hands frequently. Sneeze into a tissue and toss the tissue away properly. Clean your work area with a germicide. Stay home if you run a fever and don’t return to work or school until you’re clear of that fever for 24 hours.

Stay away from people who are sick.

Sure, all the news about the swine flu is a little frightening. But not so much if you feel like you are doing something positive to prevent catching the illness.