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Americans took this swine flu threat seriously -- very seriously

May 8, 2009 | 11:17 am

Mask Why be sorry when you can be safe? And if family closeness takes a hit, so be it (more on that later).

Two-thirds of Americans polled Tuesday and Wednesday of this week said that they or someone in their household had stepped up their hand hygiene in response to reports about the new H1N1 flu strain, washing their hands or using hand sanitizer more often than usual. 

The survey, by the Harvard School of Public Health, also found that:

35% had steered clear of someone with flu-like symptoms.

27% had taken a pass on air travel.

25% had skipped crowded public places.

14% had stopped shaking hands.

And (in regard to the closeness reference): 12% had stopped hugging and kissing close friends or relatives.

Wow.

Here are the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers of confirmed cases in this country and confirmed flu-related deaths (two -- and both had underlying health conditions).

Here are the full results of the survey.

Of note, Americans -- 83% of them anyway -- were pretty happy with their public health officials' handling of the whole thing.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Granted, kissing is difficult when wearing a mask. But hugging, that should be fine.

Credit: Associated Press

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