Swine flu has been in the news for the last several weeks. Many people are starting to panic because they don't know much about the virus and the news media is really hyping this story. As of today, it looks like this variant of the virus (H1N1) is only about as deadly as the normal seasonal flu. This can change quickly as the virus evolves and largely depends on what hosts the virus can spread to. If kept unchecked, this could become much worse later in the year as the real flu season starts. This is the best time for everyone to become educated on what they can do to help stop the spread of this flue. Just remember that the swine flu can be killed in the same ways as regular or avian flu. This virus has many weaknesses.
The first thing to remember is that the flu is passed by bodily secretions. As people cough and sneeze, blow their noses and touch things, they can leave the virus on various surfaces. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to wash your hands frequently. You should wash your hands for 30 to 60 seconds. If you have kids remember to help them wash long enough. Washing your hands does not kill the virus. Washing your hands mechanically removed the virus from your hands and washes it down the drain. You can use waterless hand sanitizer to kill the flu virus, but make sure it is at least 60% alcohol.
On hard surfaces the flu virus can be killed with any cleaning product that states that it is a "disinfectant." Be sure to check the label as it should state specifically if the disinfectant kills the influenza virus. Things like Lysol and Clorox wipes will kill flu virus.
The following environmental factors can also kill the flu virus:
- Any heat above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. So your stove, dishwasher and dryer will kill the virus.
- Cooking any foods above 165 will kill any virus in food products.
- Alcohol solutions of at least 70% alcohol and hand sanitizer at least 60% alcohol.
- Antiseptic cleansers like Lysol and Clorox Wipes.
- Bleach will kill flu virus when mixed one cup bleach to one gallon water.
Tomorrow we will talk about where the flu virus and other germs hide in your house and office.