Kids are back at school transmitting viruses. (After all, the youngest are just learning how to share.) And when there’s news of a looming virus, sales of hand sanitizers and disposal surgical masks soar. During the outbreak of H1N1virus (or the “swine flu”) in October 2009, hand sanitizer sales grew 55 percent while sales of disposable surgical masks worn to prevent the spread of influenza doubled. This year, if you lost the bid for Michael Jackson’s mask ($25k), you can pick up a box of 50 at Wal-Mart for $10.99.
This year’s virus to watch is H3N2v. Since July it has infected 306 people (and caused one death), and the seasonal flu shot is not designed to protect us against it. The good news is – for those that don’t live agricultural lifestyles – most cases were reported after direct or close contact with pigs. For those with young kids at school, it’s reassuring that to know that illustrated pigs pose no threat. Still, hand-washing is a must. And adorable as it is, tell the kids no kissing!