Could antimicrobial products be the answer to swine flu?
Could antimicrobial products be the answer to swine flu?
Recent statements from Health Minister Recep Akdağ warning that 21 million people could fall ill in Turkey and more than 5,000 could die if preventative measures are not taken and the necessary swine flu vaccines not administered have been at the top of the nation’s agenda over the past few weeks.
Announcements of school closures resulting from outbreaks of the virus and education being provided through special television stations have convinced many of the seriousness of the situation. Cases of swine flu discovered in schools in Ankara, İstanbul and Diyarbakır have led the media, educational institutions and civil society organizations to focus on telling people about measures they can take to avoid contracting the flu. Seminars on how to maintain high standards of hygiene during the outbreak are being offered at schools, universities and other organizations throughout Turkey.
But what can we really do to protect ourselves from this virus? Experts note that the best way to keep the virus at bay is to frequently wash your hands. Hearing that a second wave of swine flu is due to start soon, people have started listening to these recommendations. Companies producing various types of soap are currently at the forefront of this wave of the battle against swine flu. Ads for soaps, antimicrobial gels and cologne-drenched wipes can be seen everywhere, as can billboards urging people to wash their hands often. The results have been immediate; just get on any city bus, and you can see people wiping things down with their special wipes or rubbing antimicrobial gel on their hands. We, in the meantime, decided to look into just how effective all these precautionary measures really are in keeping swine flu away.
Wear a mask, keep out the flu
Though wearing facial masks has not yet caught on widely in Turkey, it is in fact one good way of preventing the spread of the flu, as well as protecting the person wearing it. The mask that is recommended by experts to help in protecting from the swine flu is not the same one we often use in Turkey to prevent dust from entering our face and mouths. The masks specifically recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are either the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) protection class N95 or its equivalent, protection class FFP2. These masks have 94 percent filtering capabilities. Of course, use of the masks varies depending on the level of suspected disease in the individual: for people suspected of having the flu, mask FFF1 is appropriate, people who have coughs are advised to use the FFF2 and those working in medical fields should use the FFF3. These masks, when used properly, can filter between 80-99 percent of germs encountered by the wearer, which is why their use becomes important in case of an epidemic. As for the use of masks in Turkey, it appears to be following the same course of popularity as it is throughout the rest of the world.
What should we pay most attention to when it comes to swine flu?
Medical experts say that there are two levels of defense against this flu. One level concerns our hospitals, while the other concerns our society. Preventive measures on a societal level are the ones that must be implemented in the first stages. We need to focus on hand washing. Careful attention to this subject will give us 50 percent protection from this virus. We also need to pay attention to what we are eating and work to strengthen our immune systems. People need to be aware of things like shaking hands and close contact with others. Another effective preventive measure is taking care to use antimicrobial products. This, too, can keep the flu from spreading. Don’t trust antimicrobial products produced under cosmetics licenses though. An issue to note is that students who seem as though they might have the flu should stay home from school.
Sales of antimicrobial gels increase
A rapid rise in the popularity of antimicrobial gels has occurred in the wake of the outbreak of swine flu. These gels, which were barely even visible in most pharmacies in the past, are now everywhere in Turkey. They provide a level of hygiene not offered by regular soap and water and constitute one known way of protecting yourself from the virus. One new antimicrobial gel that entered the market in October is produced by the Uni brand. Called Uni Antibacterial, the product has been shown in laboratory tests to eliminate 99.9 percent of germs in just 10 seconds and to remain effective on the skin for another 10 hours.
Wash your hands effectively
Though washing your hands with soap and water has long been one of the most accepted rules of cleanliness and necessary hygiene, research done by the soap company Protex shows that in fact, only around 34 percent of people wash their hands in the right way and at the correct times. At the same time, experts underscore that finding the right soap, and avoiding bars of soap that are used by many people, are both important factors in keeping the flu and the spread of germs at bay. It is useful to know that some say antimicrobial gels are around 10 times more effective than normal soap; everyone could simply place a bottle of this kind of gel in their purses or bags for a very effective way of fighting germs.
Another way to eliminate germs: antiseptic wipes
Special moist antiseptic wipes, found largely at pharmacies, are another effective way of eliminating potentially harmful germs from your hands. Use these wipes after using the restroom, sneezing, coughing, eating and touching any animals. Of course, before buying just any moist wipes, examine the box carefully to determine just which antiseptic features, if any, it has and to make sure it is not just a cosmetic product.
Antimicrobial disinfectant added to normal floor cleaners
Keeping the body and especially the hands clean is important in fighting the spread of the flu, but it is also vital to ensure that public and private spaces in buildings and homes are sanitary. Nowadays, we are even seeing special antimicrobial disinfectants added to regular floor cleaners. Two different floor cleaners have entered the market recently Desem Ox and Nocosprey. These sorts of cleaning supplies are now widely used in hospitals, schools and ambulances.
Resource: Today’s Zaman