This winter Americas greatest health threat is Pandemic Flu.
This influenza that transfers from birds to human and other mammals has taken two lives in the same town in Indonesia. These deaths were as late as July and September of 2008. The men are presumed to have been infected by neighborhood livestock. Both men died two days after their respective infections.
Health officials are worried that it will cripple the country and the government (and companies like Google) are taking measures prepare for a possible disaster. They have stated that it is not a question of IF, it is a question of WHEN it will occur.
Take the lead – Pandemic influenza preparedness
Burlington is one of only nine U.S. communities selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to serve as a pandemic influenza preparedness community as part of a national campaign. (Via news: Mayor and Health Commissioner: Burlington Will Take the Lead in Pandemic Preparedness)
The other prepared communities are:
San Diego, California; Savannah, Georgia; St. Louis, Missouri; Tuscarawas County, Ohio; Ft. Yates, North Dakota; Sisseton, South Dakota; Cache County, Utah.; and Seattle, Washington.
Nursing homes, hospitals and the people who work in them are vulnerable. Children and those with compromised immune systems including smokers are also at risk.
The only way to avoid contact with infected people would be to go “off the grid” for weeks/months. This is why the government is centering its focus on small communities like Vermont. The question is, will people flock to these communities during an outbreak? The National Guard would surely have to be called in to turn outside traffic away, can you imagine? You could do just as well building a 2-4 week stock of food, locking your doors and waiting it out. Would you let possibly exposed friends and neighbors in and risk the deaths of your family members? Think about it!
Because there is no vaccine we would be resorting to distancing techniques and isolation/ containment in order to prevent transmission. They are hoping to only have to resort to masks, or limited distancing but this is not a complete solution. These methods are referred to as non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI). Using NPI is a form of being able to remove ones emotions from the topic in order to get the job done but NPI only goes so far.
In China when they reached, this critical stage, 60% of all private businesses had a plan to try to stay in business after the flu hits. And many had plans to evacuate employees from near infected areas when they are announced.
There are no indicators as to the preparedness of the United States in these cold winter months of 2008.
Pandemic Influenza – What you can do to prepare:
Planning Checklist – The Vermont Department of Health offers tips to get prepared.
Visit PandemicFlu.gov weekly to read the latest news.
View the Weekly US Map: Influenza Summary Update.
The Great Pandemic of 1918-19 – Study what happened in the state you live. This is what it was like (reported by an Army doctor) for the poor soldiers from Fort Devens in Massachusetts:
Two hours after admission they have the Mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you can begin to see the Cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face, until it is hard to distinguish the coloured men from the white. It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes, and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.
Hopefully the above story of extreme suffering will help you understand the seriousness of this possible disaster and encourage you to do a few simple things to prepare?
Rapid ecological and social changes are increasing the risk of emerging threats, from infectious diseases to drought and other environmental disasters. This initiative will use information and technology to empower communities to predict and prevent emerging threats before they become local, regional, or global crises. -Google.org
Whether the Pandemic Flu is one of our natural predators, or an invasive predator: If we are going to help ourselves survive without tragedy; we need prepare today so we can be ready tomorrow.
Community Leaders Toolkit – A helpful packet of information with links to further pandemic resources online.