Family Flublog

Friday, March 03, 2006

How you catch avian or bird flu

So now we know how avian flu is spread: Bird saliva and droppings. But how does it get into you? Your hands and your lungs. You either breathe it in directly from virus particles in the air, or you get some invisible virus on your hands and basically infect yourself.

Think of your fingers as your own personal fly feet. Just like houseflies, they have touched germs you don't know about that may be lurking on doorknobs, other people's hands, or maybe by now in your community on things contaminated with avian flu virus. (For instance, how about a sponge you have used to clean bird droppings off your favorite patio chair? How about kisses from your cat who has just swallowed a sickly swallow?)

People, on average, touch their eyes, noses or mouths (all key entry points for germs) with their fingers a couple of times every five minutes! And that doesn't even count picking scabs, scratching itches and squeezing pimples elsewhere on your anatomy. I bet you aren't conscious at all of doing this, but you do. And watch your children sometime. You will be appalled! This is testimony to how effective our bodies are at warding off assaults of the usual germs, or we'd all be dead.

But avian flu virus isn't a usual germ, so if it is loose in your community, you are going to have to pay very close attention to your own personal fly feet, and teach your family as well. In the next post I'll talk about weapons we can use against avian flu.

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