Sponsored Influenza Pandemic Evacuation Rehearsal (SIPER) Manual.
Viruses that cause influenza (flu) spread primarily from person to person,
especially by coughing and sneezing (via airborne droplets of respiratory
fluids). Flu viruses can enter the body through the mucous membranes of the
eyes, nose, or mouth. After a person has been infected with the virus,
symptoms usually appear within 2 to 4 days. The infection is considered
contagious for another 3 to 4 days after symptoms appear.
The greatest risk of infection is in highly populated areas, where people
and animals live in crowded conditions, and in schools. Isolating people
with flu symptoms is not an effective means of disease control because flu
can be spread by someone whose symptoms are not yet apparent.
Since there are no known cures for flu, prevention must be your goal:
#1 Wash Your Hands
Most flu viruses are spread by direct contact. Someone who has the flu
sneezes onto their hand, and then touches the telephone, the keyboard, a
kitchen glass. The germs can live for hours -- in some cases weeks -- only
to be picked up by the next person who touches the same object. So wash
your hands often. If no sink is available, rub your hands together very
hard for a minute or so. That also helps break up most of the germs.
#2 Don't Cover Your Sneezes and Coughs With Your Hands
Because germs and viruses cling to your bare hands, muffling coughs and
sneezes with your hands results in passing along your germs to others. When
you feel a sneeze or cough coming, use a tissue, then throw it away
immediately. If you don't have a tissue, turn your head away from people
near you and cough into the air.
#3 Don't Touch Your Face
Flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching
their faces is the major way children catch flu, and a key way they pass
flu on to their parents.
#4 Drink Plenty of Fluids
Water flushes your system, washing out the poisons as it rehydrates you. A
typical, healthy adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day. How
can you tell if you're getting enough liquid? If the color of your urine
runs close to clear, you're getting enough. If it's deep yellow, you need
#5 Take a Sauna
Researchers aren't clear about the exact role saunas play in prevention,
but one 1989 German study found that people who steamed twice a week got
half as much flu as those who didn't. One theory: When you take a sauna you
inhale air hotter than 80 degrees, a temperature too hot for flu viruses to
#6 Get Fresh Air
A regular dose of fresh air is important, especially in cold weather when
central heating dries you out and makes your body more vulnerable to flu
viruses. Also, during cold weather more people stay indoors, which means
more germs are circulating in crowded, dry rooms.
#7 Do Aerobic Exercise Regularly
Aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood;
makes you breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your
blood; and makes you sweat once your body heats up. These exercises help
increase the body's natural virus-killing cells.
#8 Eat Foods Containing Phytochemicals
"Phyto" means plants, and the natural chemicals in plants give the vitamins
in food a supercharged boost. So put away the vitamin pill, and eat dark
green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits.
#9 Eat Yogurt
Some studies have shown that eating a daily cup of low-fat yogurt can
reduce your susceptibility to flu by 25 percent. Researchers think the
beneficial bacteria in yogurt may stimulate production of immune system
substances that fight disease.
#10 Don't Smoke
Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe and frequent flu.
Even being around smoke profoundly zaps the immune system. Smoke dries out
your nasal passages and paralyzes cilia. These are the delicate hairs that
line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs, and with their wavy
movements, sweep flu viruses out of the nasal passages. Experts contend
that one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.
#11 Cut Alcohol Consumption
Heavy alcohol use destroys the liver, the body's primary filtering system,
which means that germs of all kinds won't leave your body as fast. The
result is, heavier drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as
secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body -- it actually
takes more fluids from your system than it puts in.
If you can teach yourself to relax, you can activate your immune system on
demand. There's evidence that when you put your relaxation skills into
action, your interleukins -- leaders in the immune system response against
flu viruses -- increase in the bloodstream. Train yourself to picture an
image you find pleasant or calming. Do this 30 minutes a day for several
months. Keep in mind, relaxation is a learnable skill, but it is not doing
nothing. People who try to relax, but are in fact bored, show no changes in