The Swine Flu has hit AUC campus. Two cases have been confirmed by the WHO and the dormitories in Zamalek have been quarantined. Students are apparently walking around campus with masks on. And once Andrew comes home today he gets another week of vacation. All classes and activities on campus have been suspended until June 14th--so I guess campus is basically quarintined, as well.
I will admit that I am a little paranoid when I'm pregnant. I think most pregnant ladies are. Swine flu is, of course, a worry everywhere, but we live in a "developing country." Health standards aren't exactly what I'd call up to par here, not that I'm a medical expert or anything. And not only are we in a developing country, we're in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with 9,031 people per km2.
Although I only come in contact with two other people on a regular basis (Andrew and Rachel--so I'm a bit of a homebody recently, sue me), on any given day I could risk coming in contact with several hundreds, if not thousands of people. Complete strangers that I know little about. That one like sunflower seeds, this one just went shopping, that one smokes too much, etc. Who knows what their hygine is like? Who knows how many other hundreds and thousands of people they have been in contact with that day?
Most natives here cough frequently, so I wonder how I'm supposed to know if they've come down with the swine flu or if they just have lung cancer from chain-smoking from the time they were eight years old.
In Russia there is a huge thing about washing your hands the minute you enter the door. This is especially relevant if you had ridden any mode of public transportation like a bus or metro. Russians fear the flu like nothing else; they call it "grip." Babies don't go out in public for months after their birth, for fear of contracting "grip" and the minute anyone arrives home from anywhere (work, school, skating lessons, etc) they wash their hands, thoroughly.
I remember watching an episode of Саша + Маша (Sasha+Masha) once and they were riding the metro, but the flu was going around so they were very comically avoiding contact with everyone and everything. I'm sure you can imagine trying to ride a crowded metro without holding onto anything or bumping into anyone while managing to not fall over the whole time.
We only ride the metro here occasionally, but I think I'll start being a little more vigilant about using hand sanitizer when we disembark. I read on the CDC website that in order to lower risk of exposure to novel influenza A (H1N1) pregnant ladies should exercise frequent handwashing. That's good science, right there.
We've known for years that washing hands decreases the spread of disease, haven't we? That's why we like profssionals like doctors and hamburger flippers to wash their hands before returning to work, right? That's what all those stickers in gas station restrooms are there to remind us about, right? So it is sound advice. However, I wonder how many pregnant ladies out there don't already wash their hands frequently. As a pregnant lady, I wash my hands all the time, and it isn't simply because we've got a potential pandemic on our hands (no pun intended). It's because I am using the restroom probably 5 times more often than I do in an unimpregnanted condition. That guess may even be a little low.
I'm so diligent about washing my hands frequently that I get up several times in the night to wash my hands. I'd probably be less tired if I didn't, but one can never be too careful (plus I stopped wetting the bed years ago).