Brian and Olivia Albright don't want to see a swine flu epidemic sweep across northwest Ohio, but they do believe in being prepared.
This month, their Sylvania company, AOA Products LLC, which specializes in custom packaging for industries, has begun assembling and marketing "flu protection" kits aimed specifically at helping people avoid H1N1.
"The whole impetus for this was at the beginning of summer. This was hitting Mexico and South America, and we knew that when school came around this fall it was going to hit pretty hard," Mr. Albright said.
For 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of novel H1N1 infections in the United States, with 7,983 hospitalizations and 522 deaths.
First responders - doctors, nurses, and health officials - have protective supplies to prevent spreading swine flu, Mr. Albright said, but nothing is available to meet a potential demand by the public for a five-day kit. "Our intention is this is for the common man, for home use," he said.
AOA's kit, for use by adults and teens, costs $7.95, plus shipping, via the AOA Web site. It has five N-95 particulate filter face masks, five pairs of latex gloves, hand sanitizer, instructions, and a list of Web sites with flu information. A small kit for children costs $5.95.
Mr. Albright said the masks, gloves, and sanitizer are recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization. The kits are designed to protect someone during the flu's incubation period.
Dr. David Grossman, Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner, said, "What they're recommending you have are things that we do recommend. But with the N-95 masks, you usually have to fit them properly. If you're not using it properly, it's a problem," he said.
"And all the other things I could pick up at the grocery store."
But while the items would reduce risk, they wouldn't prevent someone from getting the flu if someone else sneezes on the gloves, for example, Dr. Grossman said.
AOA has about 2,500 kits for sale now and has supplies to make 5,000 more. It plans to market the kits to companies and schools.
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