Depending on the virus, generally they spread through air, and from touching an infected surface. Protecting ourselves and others from viruses is a most basic form of personal responsibility and social justice. Every single person should follow the simple protocols that inhibit the growth and spread of your basic flus and other viruses.
- Wash your hands and wrists thoroughly including thumbs (sing a refrain from your favorite song), (I just heard about research that discovered many of us don't wash our thumbs when we wash our hands. Who knew?) Wash your hands as soon as you come home and get to work.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash your hands before you pick your nose.
- Sneeze into your arm or use a few tissues. Kids, too. (There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who hand you a couple tissues when you sneeze. And those who give you one. Who uses just one?)
- Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom. (Does anyone still not get this? Yes, unfortunately.)
- Disinfect doorknobs, cellphones, and other objects you touch a lot. Even wipe down your purse and wallet occasionally. Wash toys, pacifiers, keys, crib side, car seat, anything a baby puts in her mouth.
- Eat healthy and drink water so your body is hydrated, and your immune system strong.
- If you are sick, stay away from other people. Wait until the fever breaks before returning to work.
- Personally, I'm for vaccines.
People are contagious 24 to 72 hours before he feels symptoms, and for several days after recovery. The habit of basic hygiene will reduce transmission. We will forget sometimes to do these things, so make sure when you don't do them, you are having fun.
What does this have to do with social justice? Because a component of the social justice mentality is awareness of our connection to all living beings - to be conscious of the experiences of others. This is an easy way for all of us to participate in the well-being of the people around us. Think about all the people and things we touch each day.
As soon as people start to feel the symptoms, they should stay home until the symptoms subside. Otherwise, they will spread the virus. It is so important that every employer offer paid sick days. This is not just a generous policy, it is also good business. This week one person is sick. By next week five people. Week after, ten. Productivity is down. Employees are less focused, so mistakes may go unnoticed. It will take longer to recover. No one should have to choose between going to work sick and spreading flu and needing the money.
Ebola is on many people's minds at the moment. Ebola is not contagious until the person feels the onset of symptoms. The health care worker in Texas isolated within 90 minutes of the onset of symptoms. It is not likely to spread. Scare stories will not contain the virus; correct information and attention to methods of transmission will. We have to recognize our role in spreading infectious illnesses, and to change our behavior to protect ourselves and each other. This is one of those things we just have to do as a community. The success of every system requires that cooperating individuals appreciate their part in that success. It is up to each of us.