Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bird Flu Pandemic

I've been reading a lot about bird flu this week and am surprised at the attitude of some of the authorities as they play it down. I think people would be wise to start to make some basic preparations for what they will do if a flu pandemic breaks out.

One of the most basic things that will happen in the event of a pandemic is that people will not go to work. So, imagine what happens when none of us goes to work. It might we wise to have a few spare tins of food at home, some stored water and a few basics (like a torch and some batteries). No need to go beserk. People in New Zealand are more self sufficient than any other group I have ever met and they routinely have an emergency preparedness kits in the house.

Here are a few things I've jotted down about bird flu today and some useful links.

Bird flu should not just be a concern to people working in poultry, people eating chicken or people in Asia. A human flu pandemic flu stemming from bird flu is a real possibility that we need to be aware of. We've had a bird flu pandemic before.

The 1918 Spanish Flu spread fast, globally, and killed 40 million people. Recent studies of the lungs of people who died and were buried in ice have led to the belief that this flu was also a bird flu. Birds are thought the most likely means of the virus spreading quickly too ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4350050.stm )

These days we have air travel so we will much more effectively spread another pandemic flu. Predictions for a new pandemic are between 2 - 50 million deaths worldwide ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3422839.stm )

Bird flu has so far affected around 204 people and has killed 113 (http://www.fluwikie.com/pmwiki.php?n=Main.TourLevelI ). Human to human transmission is so far rare among these cases, most have caught the disease directly from birds.

There is a perception that so far only birds have caught the flu. This is incorrect, it has already spread to some mammals including civets, tigers, leopards, domestic cats, ferrets and mice http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4920546.stm . Genetically we are not that different from other mammals.

One of the biggest initial effects of such a flu pandemic are that people don't show up for work. It will not be a case of business as usual. People should be aware of this situation and think it through. There is what seems like good advice online at
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/tab3.html the planning checklist. The Red Cross has some useful Emergency Preparedness guidelines too. Fluwikie also has a useful preparedness guidehttp://www.fluwikie.com/pmwiki.php?n=Consequences.PandemicPreparednessGuides. An interesting article is Preparing for the Coming Influenza Pandemic by Gratton Woodson and is quite a sobering read.

I don't see any need to panic but I think people should start to realize that this is a real threat and start to think about storing a few extra tins of food away, and thinking about storing a little water too.


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