As summer gives way to the rainy season, our immune system drops to cope with the changes. This period is when diseases spread the easiest. Dense populations and dirty surroundings only serve to increase their rate of transmission. The Ministry of Health and Sports has announced that there were 16 people who contracted the seasonal H1N1 virus, also known as ‘swine flu’, between 1 January and 20 June this year. Of them, five in Yangon Region and a patient in Sagaing Region have died from the virus. But the ministry also said that the victims were either too old or too young and had diabetes, hypertension, heart or respiratory diseases to complicate their illnesses. Nonetheless, we must all take necessary precautions to protect ourselves from the seasonal influenza. It is a good idea to wash your hands and feet thoroughly when returning home and to wear facemasks in crowded public areas. We must also remember to cover our mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and wash up afterwards. It is best to avoid places with lots of people and to get sufficient sleep in order to build up your immune system. A helpful thing you can do for your community is to pass flu prevention information on to your neighbors and friends. Eating nutritional food will boost your defenses against the virus but there are some foods that do the job exceptionally well. Broth made with onion, celery, carrots and garlic will keep you hydrated and satiated while keeping your health in check. Consuming yogurt and other vitamin C-rich fruits is also recommended. Senior citizens, young children and pregnant mothers have to be extra vigilant when the seasons change and the virus makes it entry. If you do come in contact with someone who has the flu, remind yourself not to touch the things they use on a daily basis, as microbes can linger on everyday items as well. We suggest getting flu vaccines if you have to interact with a lot of people everyday or just to be on the safe side. Also make sure to get yourself or someone you know checked at the nearest clinic or hospital if symptoms show up. After all, prevention is always better than cure. The symptoms of the virus include fever, though not always, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and watery red eyes, with more serious cases also exhibiting body aches, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Flu symptoms develop about one to three days after a person is exposed to the virus. It is worth noting that the H1N1 virus infects the cells that line your nose, throat and lungs when you inhale contaminated droplets, either from water or phlegm. Therefore, people who work with poultry and swine should take immediate precautions to shield themselves from any infection. We believe that increasing health awareness among the public is an effective way to counteract the virus. As more people become health conscious and take necessary measures to safeguard their health, there will be less alarm for outbreaks when the seasons change.