Saturday, August 18, 2018

Preparing for a Pandemic

First there was Bill Gates saying that a pandemic is on the horizon and we are woefully unprepared for such an event, then in today's news, the CDC is putting out a graphic novel for teens about tracking a pandemic outbreak.  Worried much?  We probably should be.

The government has been pouring money into planning for a pandemic for more than a decade--from preparedness on a city/state/national level to surveillance systems to protocols, yet each year there are still tens of thousands of deaths from just the "regular" flu.  A highly virulent strain of the flu that causes a world-wide pandemic would cull the population to levels not seen since the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak.

Unfortunately the only way to totally protect yourself from a pandemic flu virus is to completely isolate yourself away from other people which is easier said than done (plus by the time people are aware that there is a virulent flu strain in the area they will have probably already been exposed).  Other preparedness recommendations for the flu include getting a flu shot (a hit or miss thing generally), keeping your distance from people (so if they cough or sneeze the droplets which carry the flu virus won't infect you), sanitizing everything (hands, keyboards, phones, etc), even wearing N-95 masks to keep from inhaling the virus. 

People should also be prepared to shelter in place in their homes in the event of a massive outbreak in the community, for weeks in the worst case scenario.  And access to healthcare becomes critical as the feeling like you got hit by a bus type of flu can quickly devolve to severely ill/pneumonia/death in record time.  The problem with pandemic outbreaks when it comes to medical care is that hospitals can quickly become overwhelmed with sick people, there is no way to isolate them, and there are not enough ventilators to go around.  When hospital staff start calling out with the flu in large numbers, people will be well and truly screwed.

Now, before the next flu season starts (usually around October) is a good time to learn more about the flu and take steps to prepare in case this flu season becomes particularly deadly.

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