If you have watched the news anytime in the last few weeks, I am sure that you are aware of the recent outbreak of the swine flu.
This issue is particularly important for professional truck drivers due to the fact that they are exposed to many different people in many different locations on a regular basis. As a result of the transient nature of the business, it is extremely important for drivers to be able to recognize the symptoms of this virus in order to prevent its spread.
Basically, the swine flu is a strain of the influenza A viruses that usually cause respiratory infections in pigs. It is possible for humans to catch this virus from infected pigs, although very rare.
The virus that is causing the recent outbreak is actually a genetically new virus that is a combination of swine, avian and human influenza viruses.
This new virus is capable of spreading from person to person. The virus enters the body when you inhale contaminated droplets or transfer the live virus from a contaminated surface to your eyes, nose or mouth.
The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to those of common flu viruses. These include: fever; cough; sore throat; body aches; chills; headaches; and vomiting. Symptoms usually surface within five days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms only last for about a week. A person infected with this virus is contagious for about eight days after the first symptoms appear.
It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any flu symptoms. Be sure to tell your doctor where you have recently travelled.
Most cases of swine flu do not require any medical treatment other than symptom relief which consists of antiviral medication.
It is important to start treatment as soon as possible as antiviral medications are most effective if treatment begins within 48 hours of developing symptoms.
If you do get infected with any flu virus, it is important to drink lots of liquids to prevent dehydration. In addition, you must get plenty of rest to help your immune system fight the infection.
You may also consider pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil to reduce discomfort. However, talk to your doctor before taking any medications.
There are some very basic measures that may help prevent you from catching or spreading the flu. Firstly, stay home and avoid crowds if you are sick.
Also, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Use soap and warm water, and wash your hands for at least 30 seconds making sure to scrub between your fingers and underneath your nails.
If soap and water are unavailable, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a great alternative.
Keep in mind that the flu virus can survive for a few hours on surfaces such as door handles or countertops. This is very important for truck drivers who frequent public places such as truck stops.
The good news is that most reported cases of the swine flu have been mild in severity and responded well to treatment. With that being said, there is no reason to panic.
If you follow these simple prevention strategies it will greatly reduce your chances of getting infected. Until next month, drive safely!
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News