Should you be concerned?
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| How to prepare?
Impact of a Bird Flu Pandemic hits home
If the avian flu virus mutates so that the disease can be transmitted from one human to another, we will face a pandemic with the potential to kill a billion people worldwide. It is important for people to educate themselves, their family and their neighbors about bird flu and the concrete steps they can take now can to lessen the spread of the disease.
Waiting to prepare for a pandemic is like waiting for a category five hurricane to come ashore before racing to the lumber yard for plywood. A pandemic is even more dangerous than a localized natural disaster because a virus can be transported by airplane to virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of days.
Pandemic preparation has two integral components. First, you should have a basic 3 day emergency kit, just as you would for an earthquake, storm, hurricane, or other disaster. The only difference in preparing for a pandemic is that you should extend the level of preparation to last much longer. The flu lasts approximately two weeks, but it can conservatively take 6-8 weeks for it to go through a population. During this time you will need to be prepared for disruption of services just as with other large scale emergencies. Plan on caring for sick ones at home by following the guidelines in the Home Care Guide.pdf
Second, is the preparation for infection control, it involves hygiene and barriers to contamination. Hygiene includes hand washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and daily disinfection of surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, and faucets. The barrier method of infection control requires that sick individuals be isolated and that others wear protective clothing. Only by wearing the appropriate quality masks, gloves, and goggles can the flu virus be prevented from entering through the mucosal membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Dr. Fenstersheib, the Public Health Officer for Santa Clara County, California, predicted that in the event of a pandemic, 25-35% of the population would become ill. He said, "With the burden this will place on the healthcare system and the government infrastructure, it is clear that each individual and family in our community must take on the responsibility to be prepared to care for sick family members during a pandemic. With proper supplies and instruction, home preparedness will go a long way to lessen illness and save lives.