How Not to Get the Swine Flu
The Swine flu has a sordid history, coupled with it's own level of hysteria brought about by media, government and people worldwide. While this current strain has been proclaimed to be weaker than once believed, there are still precautions to be taken just as with any wide-spread, multinational disease.
What you'll learn here doesn't just count for the swine flu, the avian flu, or whatever-animal-here flu. There are basic steps you can take to prevent any sort of flu, or at least greatly reduce your chances of contracting sicknesses which are transmitted through various methods of contamination.
First, let's debunk some of the common questions regarding swine flu. The reason the H1N1 is called the "swine flu" is not due to transmission from pigs - but because pigs had these particular sniffles and coughs first! So while it's possible that if you happened to buy infected meat and didn't cook it to the proper temperature, and ate loads of it you may get the "swine flu," that doesn't mean the only way you can get it is from a pig.
The swine flu is transmitted just like any other flu you'd get, and here's where you'll find the information you need to keep yourself healthy. Pass it on - you may save someone from getting the flu.
Do you know why there are standards of cooking meat for meals, why there are recommended internal temperatures for meat to attain before you eat it?
You cook your meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit so that you don't get sick!
There are no excuses, meat thermometers cost anywhere from three to thirty dollars, depending on bells and whistles, and you should use them every time! The reason you cook your meat to this temperature is that:
- Bacteria and such present naturally in food cannot withstand 160 degrees. This is vital information, as you will save yourself from a variety of ailments such as salmonella poisoning, bacterial infections, and yes - even the swine flu dies off at those temperatures!
The WHO (World Health Organization) - no groaning, there's a lot of good information being presented by them on a routine basis - has stated that pork cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit will not transmit swine flu to the consumer.
The other incredibly vital piece of information that you should all know is about preparing your food. ALWAYS wash your hands before handling raw food products such as meat - and prevent cross-contamination by handling one type of meat at a time. For example, if you are cooking with pork and chicken in the same meal, you would handle these meats in the following manner:
- Wash your hands prior to handling the meat.
- Take one meat, either one, and prepare it as you need it.
- Clean entire work surface, making sure the area is free of blood or residue from the first meat.
- Wash your hands again. (Hush, don't argue. Your mom taught you this, and you probably learned it in Home Ec too!)
- Now handle the second meat. These meats should be stored in separate containers while you work.
- Wash your working area once more, and your hands, then go on with your cooking.
- Remember - if you touch your face or hair while cooking, wash your hands again. You may be transferring bacteria from the meat to your person, compounding the issue further by sullying the meat as well.
Dealing with People
Everywhere you go, someone will be talking about this epidemic. The flu changes from season to season, and the swine flu is no different. Whether you are sick, or someone around you is sick, there are a variety of precautions you can take to prevent the spread of the swine flu or any other illness of this type.
- Wash your hands frequently. (Are you sensing a theme?)
- If you have to sneeze or cough, do so with a tissue covering your mouth.
- If you suspect you are seriously sick, contact your physician. If you get the sniffles, you're not dying - call your doctor, don't riot his/her office with pitchforks and torches demanding the cure for all ailments.
- Read, learn, become aware. One way to dispel fear is to learn, and by learning about the swine flu or any other cold, flu, or virus, you take the power of reaction into your own hands. Part two of this tip is to read from credible sources. The CDC, and the WHO are two very credible sources to educate yourself from.
- Be courteous to your coworkers, family and friends - if you are sick, take special care in regard to your hygiene, and get the proper medical care to put yourself on the road to recovery. If that means taking a sick day off work, do so for yourself and to prevent transmission to those you are around daily.