Well, for the last few years everyone was worried about the bird flu. Heck, one of the TV networks even did a docudrama about a possible flu epidemic. It looks they might have picked the wrong flu. The swine flu that got started last month in Mexico looks to have some potential for becoming a pandemic. A pandemic is the large scale spread of an infectious disease that we have little or no natural defenses against, and so easily spreads from person to person.

If the swine flu is that new threat, it is in some ways fortunate that it isn’t a bird flu pandemic (Yet). The swine flu looks to have a mortality of about 20%, judging from the cases in Mexico, although the cases in the U.S. and elsewhere seem to be somewhat less deadly. The avian variety however, has a mortality rate of closer to 70%. It can also cause severe hemorrhaging, which further complicates treatment. So far, the swine flu does not seem to cause this.

Another bit of “good” fortune is that anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu seem to have some effectiveness against the swine flu, while they had very limited to no effectiveness against the bird flu. The Center for Disease Control has already made a base stock for a swine flu vaccine. Maybe they can use some of that stimulus money to ramp up production and distribution. Lord knows that if a flu pandemic hits the U.S., it will really punch our economy in the schnoz, not to mention all  the pain and suffering it will leave in its wake. So a strong case could be made for diverting some of that money from repainting the local bridges to anti-flu measures.

What are the symptoms of the swine flu, so you can watch for its appearance? They are much like the symptoms of any other flu.
•    Cough
•    Nasal and Chest Congestion
•    Body aches
•    Joint Pains
•    Fever
•    Sore / scratchy  throat
•    Headaches
•    Fatigue
•    Decreased energy

What can you do to help prevent the spread of the latest strain (Which happens to be H1N1, the bird flu everyone was so concerned about was H5N1). Just because you’re a healthy, young adult that is not typically at risk for a serious bout of this stuff, don’t count your chickens. As with the 1918 flu pandemic that killed an estimated 40 – 50 million people around the globe, this pig variety seems to hit especially hard at the 20 – 40 age group. In fact, most of those dead in Mexico fall into this category.

Here are some defense mechanisms you can employ to help protect against the spread of this, should it become necessary. First of all, wash your hands frequently. This virus primary mode of transmission is airborne on mucous particles coughed up by infected persons, but those particles have to land somewhere and do not die right away.

At some point it may become necessary to use protective masks. While the mucous particles people cough up are relatively large, the virus itself is not. Most traditional gauze masks are far too porous to stop it. It just goes right through the holes in the mask. It is recommended that a “N95” or better mask be worn. An N95 mask filters out at least 95% of all airborne particles 3 microns and larger. A mask called a Nanomask that has high levels of filtration, and kills viruses that come into contact with it, attained some measure of popularity during the bird flu scare a few years ago. Look for its popularity to skyrocket again if this new strain gets off the ground.

The main thing you can do is watch the news, and if you see anyone exhibiting the symptoms, stay far away from them until this works itself out. When you’re out and about, such as at the gym, make sure you use hand sanitizer and wash frequently. Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. You should still stick to your work out and eat healthily. Take a strong vitamin C supplement, too. Some research indicated that strong doses of vitamin C had some effect at protecting against the bird variety. They may do the same against the swine flu as well. The doses that were used in some of these tests were extraordinarily large though, somewhere on the order of 150,000 milligrams per day and up. You’d need to take an astonishing 300 500 milligram doses of vitamin C to reach these levels. It makes me wonder what else you’d have time for.

So, watch for the swine flu symptoms to appear on those around you, and think about grabbing a mask for safety, because you know they’ll be hard to get if this takes hold. Stay safe, because nothing will throw a wrench in your fat loss plan like dieing of the flu. Good luck.