Pandemic Flu or Virus Outbreak

The World has not experienced a wide-spread pandemic or virus outbreak in nearly a century. History tells us that there will be another pandemic outbreak.  With international air travel and widely used public transportation systems in the most populated cities throughout the modern world, a pandemic virus could spread very easily and rapidly.

Today, all eyes are on the Ebola virus.  As of October 2014, the Ebola virus has killed over 4,000 people in Africa, and it has claimed its first victim in the U.S. – and it is continuing to spread. With a fatality rate that exceeds 50%, it is truly a concern for citizens worldwide.

What is the Pandemic Flu?

Pandemic flu is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the human population. Unlike regular seasonal epidemics of influenza, these pandemics occur irregularly, historically about three times each century, and cause high levels of deaths.

Influenza pandemics occur when a new strain of the influenza virus is transmitted to humans from another animal species. Since these viruses are constantly changing, new strains are unaffected by any immunity people may have to older strains of human influenza and can therefore spread extremely rapidly and infect very large numbers of people.

The most serious pandemic outbreak in the 20th century was the Spanish flu in 1918.  The Spanish flu is estimated to have killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide and sickened hundreds of millions more between 1918 and 1919.  There were not enough doctors, hospital rooms, or medical supplies for the living as they contacted the disease.  Dead bodies were often left unburied because there were not enough people to deal with them.  As you might imagine, the loss of this many people within a two year period caused upheaval and psychological damage to many people.

Bird Flu is a Potential Pandemic

Experts still view the “bird flu” (H5N1) as a very good example of a flu virus with pandemic potential.  H5N1 is a virus that circulates among birds in parts of the world.  Today is it non-human, meaning there is little to no immunity against the virus among people.  Human infections with this virus occur rarely today; but if the virus were to change in way that it could infect humans, it could easily spread from person-to-person, creating a pandemic.

How to Prepare for a Pandemic

Should another pandemic occur, it will be suggested that everyone avoid contact with anyone that could be sick.  If that occurs, employees will stay home and won’t show up for work, stores will be closed, shelves won’t be restocked with supplies, and eventually, critical utilities won’t operate because no workers show up to keep them running.

This would leave those without adequate food, water and other necessities before the outbreak vulnerable and would likely force them to venture out to seek supplies, which could cause them to come in contact with the pandemic virus.

It is best to plan to stay at home, essentially quarantining yourself and your family.  Plan to stay in place at least two weeks – maybe as many as four weeks, and have sufficient supplies on-hand, without having to leave to replenish supplies.

For more information about how to prepare you and your family for a pandemic or other disasters, click here.