With all the news about the Ebola outbreak in Africa it makes us wonder just what would need to happen in the US if there was a Pandemic. I don’t really think Ebola is actually a threat here in the US because out sanitary practices are so completely different than those in third world countries. For one thing, we don’t accuse health care workers as being the ones who are purposefully spreading disease. Another is we do not have practices of touching our dead. We have personnel come and dispose of bodies in methods which prevent the spread of infection. Contrary to what the US press has reported we have actually had ebola here in the US since the 80’s. The book The Hot Zone outlines several times we have had an actual outbreak of ebola in research facilities and barely been able to keep these outbreaks under control. It is one of the most frightening books I have ever read.
This graphic is now outdated with the number of people who have died from the virus but it shows the progression of the disease in a person.
However, we do run the risk of other contagion such as the Bird Flu, Swine Flu or other such viruses and there’s actually little we can do to globally stop the spread of these infections. We can however take steps to protect ourselves (I guess this would actually be an argument for limiting the transmission on a global level too).
Here’s a list of things you should do to protect yourself and your family.
Limit the Spread of Germs and Prevent Infection
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
A couple items to keep in your 72 Hour Bag are a dust mask, hand sanitizer, betadine to clean any scratches or cuts. Any time you have a disruption in the barrier between you and the outside world it is a potential avenue for infection and viruses to attack. Deal with any breaks (cuts or scratches) in your skin, quickly. You should also carry rubber gloves in case you need to come in contact with a person suspected of being infected.
Further we need to plan for a Pandemic, or outbreak of a virus on a large scale.
Plan for a Pandemic
- Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters.
- Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
- Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
- Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.
- Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.
I have read in some materials who say the CDC suggests having a 90 day supply of food and supplies at your house because this is the average burnout period for a large scale outbreak. Call your doctor and tell them you are stocking up on supplies and would like to have an extra three month supply of necessary prescriptions. Most likely your insurance won’t cover this expense but at least if your Doctor will write you a prescription for this quantity you can pay for it yourself and then rotate your stock as you get your prescription refilled monthly. Be sure to have powdered rehydration solutions such as pedialyte and gatorade in your supply. Dehydration is a big threat to your well being when you are ill and storing the powdered versions of these beverages will last longer.