Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine flu - the next pandemic?

If you listen to the news at all these days, it is filled with alarm about the recent outbreak of swine flu. My daughter, has a one year old, and is worried that he will get the swine flu and die. I understand her concern, and I've thought the same thing as well.

It's great that school districts are "on top" of closing schools, etc. Listening to the CDC, the regular flu kills 63,000 people a year. So far, the swine flu has killed 100; there are 109 people with confirmed cases in the U.S.

The worst case scenario is that millions of people will be affected. With these people infected, it is possible that basic services and food/water availability will be scant. If the people running the utilities are sick, it is conceivable that you may not continue to get water at your location. Grocery deliveries to your local grocer may not continue on the same schedule it does now because truck drivers may be ill.

Realize that a vaccination is months away. Nationally, the CDC is assisting states with pandemic planning, and right now we're seeing the results of that planning in the quick response of the CDC and states.

With a U.S. population of 289 million, the DHHS plans to buy a mere 20 million antivirals (Tamiflu and Relenza), covering only 13% of Americans. Limited supplies means rationing. First to receive these medications would be key government leaders, health care providers and high risk persons, totaling about 46 million Americans. Each person would need two doses administered four weeks apart, totaling 92 millions doses, out of the 20 million available.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that businesses might lose 40% of their workforce. This could contribute to the possiblity of a monstrous economic disaster affecting our already anemic economy.

So what can you do? What steps should you take if the swine flu comes knocking at your door? Certainly families should make personal plans for extended periods of quarantine. Stockpile now, while you can, canned foods that don't require water. Stockpile water in case utilities are disrupted. Stockpile basic medications: aspirin, acetaminofen, ibuprofen, Musinex, etc. Stockpile either soap or the increasingly popular hand sanitizers.

The bottom line is this: even though you act proactively through masks, washing hands, etc., you cannot always stop the flu form showing up at your house. If it does, take some of the steps outlined here and stay as safe as you can.


Donna McDine said...

Katie...thanks for your sharing some valuable tips.

Best wishes,

Unknown said...

Now, I'm really scared. *smile* Actually, I'm with your daughter...I'm worried about my grandson. I guess we wouldn't be human if we didn't worry.

Thanks for the helpful tips.


Anonymous said...

While we preparedness junkies don't like to use the word "stockpile," as it implies hoarding and panic, having about 2 weeks worth of emergency supplies is advisable. I should note, too, that it is easy; chances are most folks already have that much food and water in their homes already. A jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread might get tiresome after awhile, sure, but you won't go hungry for several days.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Katie,
Scary times eh? I live in Australia and like the US we have great medical facilities and resources, I pity the poorer countries though. It will spread like wild-fire there.