Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Avian Flu Pandemic

A friend let me know about an online news article about FEMA's planning for mass graves, vaccination drills, and martial law near Chicago. Although the subsequent comments are of the conspiracy theory, survivalist, TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It), apocalyptic nature speculating on a civil uprising against the government due to the failing economy and Obama's disappointing performance to date with his and the other politicians' pork-filled stimulus package (Since the people are hurting for money, let's give them a little back so we can make them pay a lot more over the long haul; the government's perverted version of usury.) my thoughts are that preparations are being made, among other emergency situations, for the avian flu pandemic that the CDC predicted over a year ago would hit the U.S. in three to five years if it continued at the rate it had been.

If the H5N1 strain of influenza mutates to the point where it can spread from human to human (currently, it goes from animal to human to no more than one additional human), predictions of the number of fatalities, based on the flu pandemic of 1918, are high enough to affect our infrastructure. Although some people are saying "if" it comes to the U.S., even though the American continents are protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Asian Avian Flu has spread so far that "if it arrives" is now "when it arrives."

From the CDC's "Current H5N1 Situation" webpage:

"(WHO) has reported human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and the Near East. Indonesia and Vietnam have reported the highest number of H5N1 cases to date. Overall mortality in reported H5N1 cases is approximately 60%. The majority of cases have occurred among children and adults aged less than 40 years old. Mortality was highest in cases aged 10-19 years old."

The potential for infrastructural disruption is so severe that, for example, if you take a sick relative to a hospital, it's possible for the nursing staff to be so depleted that you should expect to have to stay there to provide nursing care for your relative yourself, under the direction of whatever medical staff remains.

Other areas of concern would be if your place of business shuts down, schools and stores close, and public transportation services are interrupted. Would you be able to work from home? What will you do for money if you can't or if banks close? Do you have enough educational and entertainment materials at home to keep your children up with their schooling and entertained during a long-term confinement at home? Will you have enough food, water, medicine, and sanitation supplies to last for at least two weeks? How will you get around if you currently rely on public transportation and don't have your own vehicle?

Being proactive might prove to be the best and simplest way of protecting yourself and your family from the flu itself. If everyone does it, we'll have a better chance of avoiding wide-spread societal repercussions from the get-go.

First, the practice of good sanitation helps prevent the spread of any disease. Wash your hands frequently and ensure that your children do the same, especially before handling food or clean laundry or touching their faces.

Second, ensure that everyone's inoculations are current. While annual flu shots won't deter avian flu - it will take several months to develop a vaccine after it mutates to a human contagion form - developing a resistance to seasonal flu will enhance overall good health and help a victim survive. Because most flu-related deaths are due to pneumonia, getting a pneumonia shot is also recommended especially for those over 65 or with diabetes or respiratory afflictions such as asthma.

Third, if you have acreage with a body of water on it, let your dog(s) help keep your livestock safe by encouraging them to chase off wild migratory fowl that want to drink and feed on your property.

Finally, when the pandemic arrives (may God forbid), we should be prepared to wear surgical face masks or N95 respirators whenever we're out in public. Considering that I've worked with people who wouldn't stay home when they were sick and contagious, and women who blew off washing their hands after using the bathroom (Pot-luck lunches at work? No, thank you! Ignoring the fact that food service workers have to wear gloves, one woman didn't believe she should have to wash her hands because restaurant employees can't be trusted to wash theirs.), wearing protective gear at work or school might be a good idea, too, and may prove effective at preventing transmission in the home as well.

Psalms 91:
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.


Harlan Dolgin said...

Very good blog. I would also add that people need to train themselves to cough or sneeze into their sleeves, rather than into their hands. This will limit the spread of the germs that cause seasonal flu or pandemic flu.

Thanks for your efforts.

Harlan Dolgin

Gail Rhea said...

Thank you very much for commenting. It made me realize that the link I provided for "First, the practice of good sanitation..." was incorrect. It's now fixed so readers may read about using their upper sleeves instead of their hands if they don't have a tissue, proper disposal, and cleaning surfaces and laundry.